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alive's Rallying Call to Consumers

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Now is the time for Canadian consumers to stop a massive threat to our food security and farming industry. If US-based Monsanto Corp., a biotech and chemical company, has its way, genetically ingineered (GE) wheat will soon be approved in Canada.

Now is the time for Canadian consumers to stop a massive threat to our food security and farming industry. If US-based Monsanto Corp., a biotech and chemical company, has its way, genetically ingineered (GE) wheat will soon be approved in Canada.

GE soy, canola and corn slid into the Canadian marketplace without consumer knowledge. Not so with GE wheat. The news is out and it's our chance to make a statement!

Last December Monsanto applied to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for the environmental release of GE wheat. Greenpeace also discovered that the company had filed for food safety approval of GE wheat in July 2002. Both these petitions are of great concern to environmentalists, health activists and farmers. (The process is simultaneously going on the US.)

A new study by Greenpeace Canada the most comprehensive ever in North America highlights some crucial concerns with GE wheat, including loss of Canadian and US export markets, unwanted contamination of food and fields due to segregation problems, increased pesticide use and environmental destruction, lack of an appropriate regulatory system to safeguard human and environmental health, and diminishing of Canada's reputation as a top international wheat producer.

Industry people might claim that these concerns are unjustified; however, another recent report by Britain's Soil Association entitled Seeds of Doubt shows that GE food crops have been a "practical and economic" disaster in North America. For example, Canada has lost $300 million in annual canola exports to European countries and Japan. And nobody can deny that the long-term health and environmental impacts of GE crops are unknown because these crops have only been in serious cultivation with 99 percent in Canada and the US for more than a handful of years. Extremely worrisome is the fact that there has been no independent testing of GE wheat. Nor will there be by either Health Canada or the CFIA before an approval decision is made.

Groups taking a stand against GE wheat include the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, the Canadian Wheat Board, the National Farmers Union, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, the Council of Canadians and Health Action Network Society.

Here's what you can do to get involved. Get more information and share it. Against the Grain, a new Greenpeace report, is available at greenpeace.ca/e/campaign/gmo/new/gmwheat/html. This is a great start, and the Web site gives other suggestions on how to get involved.

Support the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, a collection of farmers and individuals. They have filed a class action lawsuit against Monsanto and Aventis to halt GE wheat approval. The group is also seeking compensation for canola crop losses due to genetic contamination. Donations are tax deductible. Box 310, Rockglen, SASK, S0H 3R0. Phone: 306-476-2089. Web site: saskorganic.com.

Voice your opinion. Send a personalized letter to the following people urging them to stop the introduction of GE wheat.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
(no postage needed)
E-mail: pm@pm.gc.ca

The Honourable David Anderson
Minister of the Environment
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
(no postage needed)
E-mail: david.anderson@ec.gc.ca

The Honourable Anne McLellan
Minister of Health
Brooke Claxton Building
Tunney's Pasture PL 0906C
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0L2
E-mail: minister@hc-sc.gc.ca

Your local supermarkets, too, must be made aware that consumers won't purchase GE wheat and other GE products. Canada's biggest supermarket conglomerate, Loblaws, has a huge say in industry. Its main corporate address: 22 St. Clair Ave. East, Toronto, ON, M4T 2S7. E-mail: Customer_Service@weston.ca.

What is Genetic Engineering? Genetic engineering involves the transfer of genetic material from one plant or animal species to another to enhance or bring about a desired characteristic or trait.

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