On April 9, 38 communities across Canada held rallies in support of the National Farmers Union-Ontario urgent call for action to stop genetically-modified (GM) alfalfa. In Thunder Bay, the rally started at noon outside Bruce Hyer’s constituency office. Fifty-four local Thunder Bay farmers, bee-keepers and consumers rallied to stop the release of GM alfalfa, which they say threatens the future of family farming across Canada. A petition, signed by 106 farmers and consumers, will be presented to John Rafferty, who supports the issue.

According to the National Farmers Union-Ontario, GM alfalfa could be registered for use in eastern Canada this month, pending final registration by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Because alfalfa is a perennial plant that is pollinated by bees, genetically modified alfalfa will inevitably cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa. According to the National Farmers Union-Ontario, this will contaminate farms and threaten the livelihoods of a wide range of family farmers, both conventional and organic. Another issue is resistance to glyphosate (the herbicide used on GM crops): in Ontario, weeds are becoming resistant and introducing additional glyphosate-tolerant crops, such as alfalfa, would increase these weeds. Prairie farmers have already rejected GM alfalfa for these reasons, so now the industry is trying to introduce GM alfalfa in eastern Canada.

Alfalfa is used to produce many of the foods we eat. Commonly harvested as hay, alfalfa is high-protein feed for animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry, pigs and goats. It is also used to build nutrients in the soil and is important for organic farming and gardening.

“We refuse to let one company destroy our livelihoods with GM alfalfa,” said Ann Slater, farmer and member of the National Farmers Union-Ontario. “Farmers are standing up against this uncontrolled biotech experiment and we thank consumers for joining us in this fight.”

For more information, visit www.nfu.ca