Open Letter To: Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister Right Honourable Joe Clark, Conservative Leader Federal Opposition Leader, Mr Stockwell Day, Canadian Alliance Bloc Québécois Leader, Mr.
We need political control of our plant breeding, agriculture research and extension services. We lost it in 1991. The Plant Breeders Rights legislation was promoted by the Trudeau Liberal government and passed into legislation by Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government in 1991.
The legislation gives transnational drug and chemical corporations complete control of the seeds in our "global village." Furthermore, it gives the transnationals the right to do research, patent and control the seed. This is a violation of our basic human rights. It’s obvious now that in the long run it will be disastrous for agriculture all over the world. The August 1 edition of The Times (London, England) carried the following article entitled: Welcome to the Red, Red Grass of Home.
The article by Jonathan Leake says:
"The green grass of home could soon be red, brown or purple. The traditional sward is in danger of being put out to grass by a new range of designer lawns that do not need watering or mowing."
Scientists even plan to develop luminous lawns that will light up at night. The grass–containing a gene possibly extracted from luminous marine animals–emits a gentle glow, becoming brighter when stepped on. It could provide the perfect setting for late barbeques.
Not everything in the garden is rosy, however. This new breed of genetically engineered (GE) lawns has been nicknamed "Frankengrass" by environmentalists who believe it poses a bigger danger to society than merely creating a new generation of indolent gardeners. They warn that grass can crossbreed with a wide range of other species allowing alien genes to escape into the environment. Forty test sites in America have been vandalized by an anarchist organization. The new grasses will be able to kill pests by secreting a designer toxin within their blades that uses a gene taken from a poisonous fungus.
Scotts, the garden products company behind some of the research, believes its work will revolutionize gardens, golf courses and sports pitches within the next five years. It’s already testing the grasses on plots in America after buying the gardening arm of Monsanto, the GE crop producer, and gaining access to its gene library.
Charles Berger, Scotts’ chief executive, said his dream was of a new generation of lawns. "In the next five years lawns will need less fertilizer, water and mowing–and pests won’t come near."
The article shows how ridiculous transnational plant breeding programs have become. They have nothing to do with improving the quality and productivity of food being produced. These programs are strictly for economic exploitation of farmers and the land and the control of agricultural production.
Prior to the Plant Breeders Rights legislation that was passed in 1991, we had an excellent system. Canada Agriculture Research stations and universities across the nation did all the plant breeding. They worked in the best interest of consumers and farmers and were interested in soil conservation. The agriculture research was financed by taxpayers’ dollars and Canadians had political control of the research. All seed developed became public property.
Today neither farmers nor consumers have control, but indirectly they pay the cost of the transnationals’ ridiculous research and will be doomed to poor quality, high cost, polluted food and soil degradation as it continues.
Professional agronomists lost a lot of their intellectual integrity and freedom as a result of the Plant Breeders Rights Bill. Prior to 1991, when they were employed by governments and universities, they were free to make decisions on the basis of what they thought was right or wrong. After the Plant Breeders Rights legislation their decision-making was dominated by the transnational drug and chemical companies. Farmers and citizens also lost political control of agricultural research and extension services at the same time.
Personally, I will vote for the party that convinces me it will rescind the Plant Breeders Rights legislation following the next election. I know many others who will do the same thing.