Corn, Soy and Rice have been widely contaminated with genetically modified (GM) DNA patented by large criminal corporations. Farmers around the world are no longer able to plant non-GM crops without fear of being sued for patent infringement if a single plant on their land is found to contain patented DNA. The Canadian Supreme Court has upheld the validity of such suits but consistently rejected suits brought by farmers against the agro-chemical mafia for contaminating their seed supply.
Given that the seed companie are now mostly owned by the same companies that are genetically engineering crops the seed supply is at best unreliable. Farmers must either switch crops or sign restrictive and expensive contracts with multiple GM seed suppliers to stay in business.
Wheat is the next crop targeted in the conspiracy to high-jack the world’s food supply. However, wheat farmers in Canada have vigorously resisted GM wheat because it will greatly reduce the value of their crop. Most of the world’s consumers have rejected eating GM crops but in the US and Canada food with GM ingredients is not labelled and so consumers have no choice. The EU and Japan, both big consumers of Canadian wheat, require labeling of GM ingredients. Japan tests imports of grain for genetic modification and rejects entire shipments that are found to be contaminated. It would likely reject GM wheat.
The greatest barrier to GM wheat has been the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), which represents wheat farmers and is charged with protecting the Canadian wheat market. That barrier is now being dismantled by a man named Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board. He is Canadian Prime Minister’s Stephen Harper’s hit man and has taken direct aim at the CWB in an effort to destroy its ability to function in the best interests of wheat farmers. The war currently being waged against farmers will put the agro-chem mafia firmly in control of the wheat market and pave the way for GM wheat.
Following is a good article on the issue from Common Grounds, http://commonground.ca/iss/0701186/cg186_wheat.shtml
Strahl attacks Canadian Wheat Board
Farmers losing grain sale options
by Wendy R. Holm, PAg.
For absolutely no good reason and a lot of very bad ones, BC’s own Chuck Strahl, minister of agriculture and, ironically, minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, has taken dead aim at the CWB, placing the future of prairie farmers and the communities they serve at risk.
A few days before Christmas, Strahl fired highly respected Canadian Wheat Board CEO Adrian Measner, a 32-year veteran of the organization, and replaced him with a Harper “yes man.”
This is but the latest act in a litany of abuse that began back on July 27, 2006 when Agriculture Minister Strahl held a roundtable meeting in Saskatoon on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board to which only those who agreed with abolishing the single desk selling authority of the board were invited.
That afternoon Strahl told journalists his government would not be bound by Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act, which prohibits any changes to the marketing of grain in Western Canada unless supported by a producer vote.
Then there was the September 19 email from Regina-based Charleton Communications to Western Canada Wheat Growers and others claiming, “The other side is embarrassing us with their propaganda” and that “ …government, MPs and others…” had suggested “ …we must get into the game with letters to the editor in weeklies, dailies and agriculture trade publications.” Charleton Communications offered to write letters from farmers to be sent to local and regional papers “ …at least five letters a week “ …backing government’s position on the CWB …this would get us into the propaganda game and save you people time.” Who put Charleton up to this?
There was Strahl’s October 5 gag order prohibiting directors and staff of the Canadian Wheat Board from defending the CWB’s role as the single-desk seller of Western Canadian wheat and barley.
Then there was Strahl’s removal this past fall of two CWB appointed directors (one fired for supporting the single desk authority of the CWB, one given a plum post for stepping down), replaced by two anti-CWB directors who are, in the words of former CWB director Art Macklin, “blatant, partisan patronage appointments.”
Next came Strahl’s October 17 order, in the middle of the CBW election, to remove 36 percent of Western Canada grain growers – 16,269 farmers – from the list of eligible voters. This year, five directors were elected in a vote that ran from September 5 to December 1. Electoral districts had 25 to 48 percent of eligible voters cut from their lists; only farmers that had sold grain through the CWB in the past 15 months were eligible.
This disenfranchised farmers who: had sold domestically during that period, were victims of flood, drought, or bad harvest weather, were in the middle of a crop rotation, or still had crops in the bin. And to make matters worse, Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl actively campaigned for and endorsed the anti-CWB directors.
What Strahl didn’t count on was the public backlash his actions would evoke. On October 25, Bill C-300, a private member’s bill tabled by Gerry Ritz, chair of the agriculture committee that would have removed the single desk authority of the CWB, went down to defeat (149-111) in the House. (To his great credit, Inky Mark, four-term MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, was the sole Conservative to oppose Harper and vote against Bill C-300.)
On November 1, the government also lost (155-121) an important vote on a motion put forward by the Opposition calling for a producer vote on any changes to the CWB.
In the recent board election, farmers solidly supported the CWB, returning pro-CWB directors in four out of five districts. The only “pro-choice” director was elected in District 1, where about half of eligible farmers were stripped of their voting rights by Strahl in mid-election.
Undaunted, Strahl forges ahead, saying what he can’t do with legislation, he will do with regulation. By stacking the board with political appointments (government appoints 5 directors, farmers elect 10), Strahl has created an 8/7 split on the board. By replacing CEO Adrian Measner with another “yes man” Strahl has created a board at war with itself. Farmers are outraged. As is this agrologist.
What could justify such an assault on good public policy? When in doubt, follow the money: If farmers lose power, who gains power? (Hint: eliminating the CWB has topped the US agricultural wish list since the mid 1980s.)
Obviously, concentrated transnational grain companies will have access to cheaper grain. In early December, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool announced its bid to take over Agricore United. Archer Daniel Midland (ADM) would have control through options of over 21 percent of the new, merged entity, making it the largest single shareholder of the new company that would control 44 percent of the grain elevators in Western Canada and the lion’s share of the grain handling facilities at ports.
Posted on ADM’s website is the Reuters story: Canada Minister Upbeat on Saskpool-Agricore Deal. In it, Strahl actually praises the merger – still to be reviewed by the Competition Bureau – as a “good thing” because it could “create a Canadian grain powerhouse.”
Powerhouse indeed. Family farms will go under, replaced by mega-farms. Canadian grain will go south to bolster the export quality of inferior US grain and BC’s port handling facilities for grain will all but shut down, and with them, jobs. What is Strahl thinking?
For companies like Monsanto, getting rid of the Canadian Wheat Board would eliminate a strong and vocal farmer advocate that has become a thorn in its side frustrating expansion plans. CWB’s intervention was largely responsible for preventing Canadian registration of Monsanto’s copyrighted and monopolized transgenic Roundup-ready wheat.
Then there is always cheap feedstock for ethanol. As large energy companies reposition themselves to compete in a non-fossil fuel market, rapid expansion in ethanol production is part of the forecast. Currently, there are over 1,000 retail locations selling ethanol-blended gasoline in Canada. Meeting a Natural Resources Canada-cited target of 35 percent of Canadian gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol by 2010 will require 1.4 billion litres of ethanol per year from 4.2 million tonnes of wheat grown on 3.5 million acres of land.This represents 18 percent of the tonnage and 14 percent of the land seeded to wheat in Western Canada in 2006.
That production capacity is already well under way. Under its ethanol expansion program, Natural Resources Canada just funded $78 million in projects by Suncor, Husky and others to meet this target, adding 750 million litres of annual fuel ethanol capacity and quadrupling Canadian production to almost 1 billion litres. This capacity alone will require 3 million tonnes of feed grain from 2.5 million acres (13 percent of tonnage and 10 percent of land). On November 8, ADM announced it plans to dominate the global ethanol market.
In any regulated sector, there are always a few dissidents who get a lot of print by insisting their freedoms have been curtailed. Supply management farmers are familiar with this. In the case of grains, the strategy has been to hang an important name around their neck and to hit the media running. Makes the public think even farmers are divided. In fact, with an estimated membership of fewer than 400, the Western Canada Wheat Growers Association represents less than one percent of grain farmers.
Make no mistake, Strahl’s unprecedented and unacceptable attack on the rights of Western Canadian wheat and barley growers will destroy the CWB. Without central desk selling, the prairie farmers of Western Canada will be easy pickings for the highly concentrated transnational grain corporations.
If government can wreak this policy abuse upon Canada’s grain growers, no commodity sector is safe.
Stand up for Canada’s farmers. Tell Chuck Strahl that a politician that doesn’t respect the rights of Canada’s farmers does not have the support of his constituents. Strahl is the MP for Chilliwack and the Fraser Canyon, 1-800-667-2808; send emails to: (email@example.com), (Strahl.C@parl.gc.ca) and (Harper.S@parl.gc.ca).
Wendy Holm is an award-winning agrologist, economist and journalist (firstname.lastname@example.org). More information on the CWB is posted on her website (www.theholmteam.ca).
Hampering journalism in the cause of greed
Editor’s note: Holm, a popular monthly opinion columnist for the Western Producer, was dismissed following her participation in the July 27 pro-Wheat-Board farmer rally in Saskatoon. Holm was there at her own expense as a concerned agrologist. She attended the minister’s 6 PM media conference as a freelance columnist for the Western Producer, and asked if he was prepared to move without a grower plebiscite.
The column she wrote and filed concerning the events of July 27 never appeared in the Producer. It was printed in Common Ground magazine September 2006. Ironically, her February 9 Western Producer column Dual Desk Is Code for Disaster won her a 2006 national journalism award from the Canadian Farm Writers and Broadcasters in September.
It is important to note that the Western Producer is wholly owned by Glacier Ventures, a VSE company initially formed to export bottled water. Glacier Ventures now owns the bulk of Western Canada’s farm and community newspapers. Agricore United’s CEO sits on the Glacier board. Agricore United stands to profit greatly from the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board. Archer Daniels Midland is Agricore United’s major shareholder.