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We're at War!


I am a 77-year-old retired farmer. After 32 years of organic farming I have leased my farm to the Back to the Farm Research Foundation, established as a certified organic research and demonstration farm. I am manager..

I am a 77-year-old retired farmer. After 32 years of organic farming I have leased my farm to the Back to the Farm Research Foundation, established as a certified organic research and demonstration farm. I am manager.

At the age of 18, I enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II as an air frame mechanic and served for three years. I thought it was the war to end all wars. It wasn’t. We are currently battling World War III. The fight worldwide for the control of agriculture is between transnational corporations like Monsanto and certified organic farmers. The torpedoes of this particular war are genetically engineered crops (GMOs).

Transnational corporations have a policy of trying to exploit something as long as it can be exploited. When it’s no longer exploitable, they abandon the project and move investors’ money into something else. (They are also aware that if all farmers go organic, that would be the end of their chemical businesses.) Organic farmers are practising good soil improvement and conservation policies that will rebuild the soil and produce healthy food for future generations. Consumers will be big losers if the transnationals win this war because the result will be a polluted environment, polluted water and polluted food. It’s a war for survival.

The Farmers’ Union

I have recently written to Mr Darren Qualman, executive secretary of the National Farmers Union, asking him to co-ordinate or provide leadership for the many Canadian organizations that are opposed to GMOs. The National Farmers Union is the logical organization because they are the only direct dues-paying farm policy organization in Canada with a national charter that can provide leadership to focus on the GMO issue. They have regional offices at Arthurette, New Brunswick, Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Ompah, Ontario, Winnipeg, Manitoba and Edmonton, Alberta in addition to the national office in Saskatoon. The National Farmers Union also has an excellent anti-GMO policy. In addition, farmer members are free to develop their own policies at local meetings and national conferences. They aren’t exposed to or intimidated by corporate lobbyists, as are politicians.

It’s time the NFU led this battle by calling together "fellow travellers" who are concerned about GMOs. I don’t know who they all are, but Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) has a very strong anti-GMO policy. The National Union of Public and General Employees is another-it represents government employees in all provinces except Quebec.

The Company of Canadians, the Canadian Wheat Board, all environmental organizations in Canada and even the Pope have issued very strong statements against GMOs. However, the battle is more obvious in Europe, Africa and Asia than here. Unfortunately, both the Canadian and US federal governments are committed to GMO production.

Currently, the Saskatchewan provincial government supports GMO farming and with the help of the federal government pumping money into the province, are trying to turn Saskatchewan into the GMO capital of the world.

In the US many state governments are resisting GMOs. The Minneapolis, Minnesota city council is a leader of municipal governments in the fight. The council is demanding the labelling of all GMO products and has also recommended that all eating establishments in Minneapolis offer organic foods on their menu as an alternative.

The Family Farm

In the short time I have left on earth, I plan to work with individuals and organizations that are committed to the following policies and goals:

  • The survival of the family farm as a basic unit of agricultural production.

  • To promote certified organic agricultural production, produce the healthiest food possible and clean up our polluted water and air.

  • To promote good soil conservation and improve organic farming practices.

  • To develop self-sufficient farms, communities, provinces and nations.

  • To get a moratorium on GMOs. Also support the labeling of all GMO products on the market today.

  • Support rescinding the Plant Breeders Rights Act.

  • Support farmers’ rights to save their own seed.

  • Support rescinding the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

  • Support a national medicare system that recognizes the basic foundation of good health with certified organic food and pure water and good nutrition.

The GMO war is on! If you try to avoid it, it will be at your own peril. I sincerely hope alive readers will enlist on the anti-GMO side. The Plant Breeders Rights Act (by permitting GMOs), FTA and NAFTA are all a violation of Canadian sovereignty by causing farmers to lose their rights to save their own seeds.

Elmer Laird Leads the Way

Elmer joined the Saskatchewan Farmers Union, a family organization, in 1950 and became a director of his district in 1952. He served two five-year terms and attended local and provincial meetings developing farm policy for the betterment of agriculture.

He was a founding member of the National Farmers Union. He is still a member and frequently writes to them about farm policy and organic, health and environmental policies.

In 1973, he became president of the Back to the Farm Research Foundation, which in 1983 sponsored the Canadian Organic Producer Marketing Co-operative Ltd. It was the first organic marketing co-op in Canada.

Over the years he has worked with thousands of farmers and farm leaders, both men and women, to improve agriculture policies and programs. For over 50 years, along with the Farmers Movement, he has helped build co-operatives, credit unions and worked in general for the benefit of the family farmer–men, women and young people.



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