Genetically Modified Disaster

FTLComm - Tisdale - Friday, February 22, 2002

On Wednesday of this week a meeting was held in Moose Jaw that was profoundly disturbing. Here is what Edwin Wallace, from the Swift Current area had to say about the meeting:

"I was to a Canadian Grains Commission meeting in Moose Jaw yesterday. My frustration with farming was heightened by the information that it is almost impossible to keep the varieties of wheat separated. And, with GM wheat virtually here, how are we going to manage? I just don't know. Two thirds of our world markets don't want anything to do with GM wheat, but people who think they can personally gain are leading us headlong into that jeopardy."

There is no way of handling genetically modified wheat, once its in a field it will be, or might as well be, in all fields and Canadian producers can kiss European exports goodbye as well as most other places. Nothing can stop the wind, it passes over us and our land oblivious to the things we are doing or think that we can control

Bread is so basic to the Northern Hemisphere it is the basis for our whole civilisation. No one can mess with it and think they can get away with it and the consumer is going to resist any genetic tampering with the baseline of all food.

Those who have created it are suicidal and every biologist knows it can not be contained.

But here is the silver lining, organic growers in North America could mount a dandy of a class action against Monsanto. Since it would be relatively easy to make the case that GM products are unmanageable and thereby will exterminate the whole organic food industry. With them banned together the law suit would be so huge that Monsanto would simple succumb to its implications.

Similarly, wheat producers could mount a class action against GM developers that would claim total loss of income from the development.

Though cases of this size would take years to be resolved in court, the ultimate threat of such action should halt all field experimentation and development.

Such cases would be in the billions of dollars since all income lost would be shown as the result of the GM development.

Our legal system is able to handle such a case and we now have class action capability in Saskatchewan. American lawyers have recognised the power of the court system to establish fairness when faced with a possible wrongful action by someone or some corporation. We in Canada have not had this same willingness to litigate largely because our court system has been less accepting of frivallous law suits and we do not have as many lawyers with time on their hands who are ready to sue first and ask questions later.

Under the free trade agreement for North America (NAFTA) there is an important provision that allows a party to sue if its earnings and ability to trade are impeded by governmental regulation. United States companies have done alright going after the Canadian government for banning a dangerous chemical additive to gasoline. It would be well worth considering that Canadian farmers are suffering unduely from the United State Department of Agriculture's liberal subsidisation of United States farmers and a substantial class action suit should be mounted against this impediment to free trade and the wrongful deprivation of Canadian farmers by depressing commodity prices and the United States Arm Corp of Engineers maintenance of American waterways providing unfair trading subsidy to United States farmers.

Timothy W. Shire