Minister Goodale in Conflict of Interest Position Regarding GMOs
  April 25, 2003

OPEN LETTER Published April 21, 2003, The Davidson Leader

Ralph Goodale, Canadian Wheat Board Minister
Adrian Measner, CWB President and CEO
Ken Ritter, CWB Chairman
Ian McCreary, CWB Director

Dear Gentlemen:

Re: Minister Goodale in Conflict of Interest Position Regarding GMOs

Mr. Goodale, you are in a conflict of interest position with all certified organic farmers and most of the farmers who are supporters of the CWB. You and the rest of the Liberal Cabinet and government are supporting the growing of GMO wheat which is being promoted by the transnational corporation Monsanto. You as a government have permitted the growing of secret GMO test plots by Monsanto even at the Scott Research Station which was designated for organic research. You seem completely unaware of what the introduction of GMO wheat means to farmers in the Wheat Board area.
You are obviously unaware that we may lose 60% of our grain market and how
our soils may be destroyed as a result of increased use of stronger pesticides on GMO wheat.

I am writing to you about some of the issues about food production that you may not be aware of and would be of interest to the people you write to or who attend your meetings all over the world. From February 2-9, 2003, I was on an organic farm tour of Cuba with 20 other people from Canada, U.S., Germany, Equador, and then I stayed for another 4 days after the tour. The tour was organized and sponsored by MacQueens Tours of Prince Edward Island. Both the tour and my tour companions made the tour extremely interesting. I would like to draw your attention to some of the conclusions the tour helped me formulate.

Food Quality - Organic versus Chemical

One day of the tour was a "free day" and we organized to have a lecture from German scientist Dr. Fritz M. Balzer from a leading research institute in Germany who was on the tour. (I can't read German so I am attaching a brochure he gave me with information about his credentials. Maybe you can read German or have an interpreter). The brochure actually recommends a soil testing program which was unrelated to his lecture.

In his lecture he spent about an hour and a half explaining the details of the research he did to determine the nutritional value of organic produced crops and crops produced with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. He said unequivocally that organic food contained more nutrition than chemically produced food. This is the first scientist that I have heard say this although I have known it and believed it to be true for some time.

What Does This Mean in the International Market Place?

It would be surprising if any North American scientist would agree with Balzer, particularly here in Canada. Very few chemical farmers are aware of the fact that both our federal and provincial departments of agriculture promote chemical agriculture only.

Research and extension people must go with government policy. Organic farmers are very aware of it because both governments only show token interest in organic agriculture by providing a minimum of services.

However, it does not matter from the point of the international marketplace whether or not our scientists will admit or recognize certified organic food as the most nutritious food. Dr. Balzer is in Germany, and he will be heard by far more Europeans in his support for organic agriculture than Europeans will hear the denial by Canadian scientists. This means that Saskatchewan and the rest of the Wheat Board (Manitoba and Alberta) area
will no longer be able to claim that they produce the highest quality of wheat in the world unless we make a major switch to organic agriculture. Only prairie grown certified organic grain can make the "high quality" claim today.

Organic cereal grains, legumes and flax are enjoying on average, twice the price of chemically produced food products. It would be good business practices for everyone to make the switch to organic, and it would be very important for the health of all Canadians and customers as well.

Other Marketing Challenges - The Canadian Wheat Board

In my 55 years of farming (1946-2001) I have always been a strong supporter of orderly marketing through the Canadian Wheat Board and continue to be. However, there will be a problem of getting Wheat Board directors to recognize the nutritional value of organic grain. The 10 elected Canadian Wheat Board directors are all chemical farmers, and like most other chemical farmers, they will not be prepared to admit that organic grain has
a higher nutritional level than chemically produce grain.

However, this is no reflection on the fact they are elected. If they were appointed by the federal government, they would have to support the federal government's policy of supporting chemical agriculture only. In fairness to the Wheat Board they did a survey and discovered that 60% of their international customers rejected GMO grain.

GMOs - What isn't being said by way of warning about GMOs by transnational
corporations is more significant than what is being said.

1. Herbicide Pollution - GMOs agriculture crops were developed because weeds were building up a tolerance to herbicides. The only way herbicide manufacturers could continue to sell herbicides to farmers was to genetically engineer a crop that would stand higher tolerances of herbicides so the crop would survive and the weeds would die. However, what isn't being recognized is the fact that stronger herbicide will eventually destroy the productivity of the soil. The Manitoba Co-operator recently reported that Dole Pineapple had pulled out of Hawaii because the soil had become polluted with nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides and wouldn't grow anything.

Unfortunately, both federal and provincial governments are supporting GMOs and federal Public Affairs and Wheat Board Minister, Ralph Goodale and Premier Lorne Calvert are pouring money into University of Saskatchewan at Saskatoon to make it the biotechnology capital of the world. Obviously, they are not concerned about the loss of markets as a result of GMO grains and oilseeds.

To demonstrate the provincial government's lack of concern about GMOs, I must report on Murray Mandryk's column in the Friday, March 28, 2003, edition of The Leader Post. Mandryk reported that the provincial government was growing GMO potatoes on their now defunct Spudco irrigation project at Lake Diefenbaker. He reports the government sold the potatoes without telling the buyers they were GMO. Mandryk, in his column, reported
that "Agriculture Minister, Clay Serby, says the government didn't bother telling anyone because they were not required to."

2. Plant Characteristics - Over the years scientists working for Agriculture Canada Research have developed rust resistant wheat, sawfly resistant wheat, wheat that will have higher milling quality, higher yields, wheat that will mature in fewer growing days to reduce the risk of getting damaged by frost in our short growing season, and a number of other characteristics (some related to geographic areas).

N.B. The promoters of GMOs are not talking about (1) the increased risk of soil pollution from the increased strength of the chemicals and (2) will GMO wheat maintain the characteristics the Agriculture Canada scientists have developed over the years.

3. Health Safety - Promoters of GMO products are always assuring citizens that GMO products are safe because scientists have tested them. Scientists are not able to test them for digestibility, allergies or other factors. The only way GMO food products can be tested is in the stomachs of the people who eat them and that can't be done unless they are labelled.

Fusarium Dangerous

Percy Schmieser, Bruno farmer who is campaigning for "Farmers Rights To Save Their Own Seed", was talking to a Michigan researcher who said that if wheat was sown on soy bean stubble that had been sprayed with a round-up ready herbicide, it would have the plant disease fusarium the following year. Cattle can eat a small amount of fusarium in grain but is poisonous to people, pigs, chickens and horses. This is not surprising because no one to my knowledge is doing research on what pesticides are doing to the
nutrition or to the bacteria in the soil or to the quality of grain produced. Manitoba farmers have some real problems with fusarium and so do Saskatchewan and Alberta farmers to a lesser degree.

No Synergetic Testing of Pesticides

In fact in about l977-78 at the environmental conference in Fort Qu'Appelle sponsored by a number of Saskatchewan farmer organizations and financed by the Blakeney NDP government, we had Dr. W.P. McKinley, at that time head of the Health Protection
Branch, Ottawa, as a guest speaker. I asked Dr. McKinley if any one was doing research on the hazards or safety of the combination of chemicals that were being used in agriculture. His reply was no one. He said that previous to that time the topic had been raised on how to test for the synergetic effects of the combination of chemicals for their safety at the United Nations Food & Health Organization, and they decided that it couldn't be done. No one could afford to.

So the Health Protection Branch continues to test one chemical at a time and no one is testing the synergetic effects of pesticides on people, domestic animals, wildlife or the environment. About that time a report came out that scientists were finding chemicals in the mouth of the Mississippi River that couldn't possibly enter the river on the way down so it was concluded that a new chemical must have formulated on the way down the river. Our Health Protection Branch still tests one chemical at a time and there are hundreds of more chemicals on the market than there was in 1977-78. In fact they don't do the testing, they review the research the chemical corporation provides for safety.

Standing Committee on Environment Recommends Subsidizing Organic Agriculture

Incidentally, the year 2000 report of the "Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development" on page 184 recommends that all farmers should be subsidized to move to organic agriculture. In my opinion this is the route we should go.

Saskatchewan Water Polluted

Here in Saskatchewan, Dr. Allan Cessna, National Hydrology Water Foundation, reports that all of our surface water is polluted with herbicides and also one third of our deep wells. Dr. Hanz Pederson, Executive Director of the Safe Drinking Water Foundation, reports that 23% of all our illnesses in Canada are caused by our water as compared to 2.5% in Holland. We have the highest rate of breast and cervical cancer and the second highest rate of prostate cancer in Canada. We use a third of all pesticides used in Canada and there is no doubt that pesticides are causing cancer. The PhD's in agriculture and medicine should be reporting on pesticides causing cancer, but the transnational  corporations have them effectively tongue-tied. GMO grains and oilseeds means more and stronger pesticides and water and food pollution will continue to increase.

No Records Kept

The Occupational Health and Safety office of the Saskatchewan Department of Labour records all farm accidents and fatalities, but does not keep a record of deaths and illnesses as a result of exposure to pesticides. This shows how powerful the chemical lobby is.

Our Battle Continues

In a recent conversation a few days ago Percy Schmieser, Bruno farmer, told me about the researcher he had met from France in his travels. He said that the first attempt to take away farmers' rights to save their own seed was in 1871. Well, that is what the GMO
battle today is all about - corporations taking away our right to save our own seed and the Plant Breeders Rights Act of 1991 makes it all possible.

Conservation Not In Monsanto's Vocabulary

The Corporate mentality says that everything should be financially exploited as long as possible and then when the project no longer shows a profit, move out as quietly and smoothly as possible. They never use the word "conservation."

Canadian women are getting extremely concerned about the kind of future their children and grandchildren will be faced with. I hope this information will be useful.


Elmer Laird, President
Back to the Farm Research Foundation
Davidson, SK

Dr. F. M. Balzer Factsheet
Crop Insurance Highlights Pamphlet (see organic options, right hand corner)

(Note these attachments were part of the original letter, not part of this article)


May 1, 2022 Published The Davidson Leader
April 28, 2022

David Chanasky, Registrar,
Agriculture Institute of Canada
Glen Hass, Registrar,
Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists


1. The ever worsening economic and environmental crisis in Canadian agriculture.
2. Will transnational corporations continue to take increasingly more control of the family farm?
3. Who will the Saskatchewan and Canadian agrologists support - the transnational corporations or the family farm?

I am attaching a five-page letter published in the April 22 edition of The Davidson Leader. The letter is to Wheat Board Minister Ralph Goodale, CWB President and CEO Adrian Measner, CWB Chairman Ken Ritter and CWB director Ian McCreary. It sets out in detail how prairie chemical farmers will be
faced with lower and lower prices as a result of increasing pesticide pollution of our soil and food if we follow the GMO rout of food production.

Your membership holds most of the key positions in our federal and provincial agriculture departments in Canada. The Saskatchewan Agronomist Act of 1947 gives agriculture graduates exclusive rights to do agricultural extension work (I assume all other provinces have similar legislation). Reports I have read indicate that 15% of your members are employed by pesticide companies. The Agriculture Institute of Canada and its provincial affiliates, in my opinion, are the most powerful lobby groups in

Certified organic farmers are very aware of the fact that except for a few token organic programs both federal and provincial governments support chemical agriculture only. Certified organic volunteer farmer
organizations have been attempting for the last 12 or 15 years to get the federal government to introduce national mandatory organic certification standards that would be compliant with International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). This is necessary to permit the marketing
of organic products outside of Canada. Closer to home our Back To The Farm  Research Foundation was certified under the United States Department of Agriculture in 2002 and also will be in 2003. This is a very sad state of affairs for all of agriculture.

On the historic day of September 11, 2001, the Prime Minister's Task Force on the Future of Agriculture stopped here at the farm. Representatives of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate and the Canadian Organic Certification Co-operative Ltd. were present. MP Wayne Easter, now Solicitor General of Canada, admitted that the federal government had done nothing for organic agriculture previous to that time. It hasn't changed since.

Agriculture chemicals were developed for biological controls in the First and Second World Wars. Then some clever entrepreneur figured out a way to introduce them into agriculture. As far back as 1940 Monsanto knew that 2,4-D contained dioxin and that dioxin causes cancer; however, they
proceeded with their introduction of 2,4-D and spent large volumes of money advertising to convince both academics and farmers that they were on the right road.

I sprayed for 20 years (1949-1968) and except for grasshoppers, spraying season then lasted for only a couple of weeks in June. Now it continues from the time the frost is out of the ground to freeze up. Saskatchewan citizens are (and I expect other Canadians are too) exposed to toxic chemical drift seven to eight months a year. In addition to that exposure we are exposed to pesticides in our food and water 12 months a year.

This is what our extension services are recommending. Our health care system is in a crisis. Transnational drug and chemical companies are doing very well. They sell us toxic pesticides seven months a year that make us ill and they sell us drugs 12 months a year that are supposed to cure us.
Today more and more people are concerned about pesticide pollution of our air, water, and food, particularly mothers and grandmothers who are worried about what the future will be like for their children and grandchildren.

Most of your older members grew up on family farms. For a long time  agriculture colleges only accepted students from farms. Now it is no longer necessary to have a farm background to enter an agriculture college. Until last fall, we didn't know if the chemical lobby was controlling the
agronomist organization and they were establishing federal and provincial government policy regarding pesticides or the chemical lobby was controlling politicians and they were establishing the "chemical only"  agriculture policy.

However, last fall at the "Water Conference" in Saskatoon in early October, the following book was being distributed supporting GMO production: "Transforming Agriculture The Benefits and Costs of Genetically Modified Crops" by Murray Fulton, Hartley Furtan, Dustin Gosnell, Richard Gray,
Konstantinos Giannakas, Jill Hobbs, Jeff Holzman, William A. Kerr, Jodi McNaughton, Jan Stevens and Derek Stovin.

Some of the authors of t he book are high-profile academics at the University of Saskatchewan, but no one used their academic credentials after their names. Perhaps they were presenting a minority report and don't represent the Institute of Agrologists. They were apparently not concerned about the pollution of pesticides that would be used with GM crops or the pollution of other crops by GMOs.

Does the fact that we don't have any agricultural colleges in Canada graduating students in organic agriculture reflect the bias of the Institute of Agrologists?

A report out of Ottawa on the CBC Radio News April 22 said registration of grains in the future would be made on a scientific basis, market value  would no longer be considered. Farmers obviously have lost that battle and their right to save their own seed is certainly being threatened by the transnational corporations.

We frequently hear about alcohol, drug and gambling addictions. More recently addiction counselors are considering chemical or pesticide use an addiction. It has been thought of to date in terms of chemical farmers, but perhaps it might apply to your members, particularly ones that grew up
on chemical farms and graduated in chemical agriculture.

The federal government signed the Kyoto Agreement last fall. Many taxpayers and consumers are expecting the agriculture community to clean up its act.

Perhaps it is time we met and discussed solutions to our environmental and health problems. I would welcome the opportunity, and I know other organic farmers that would welcome the opportunity too.


Elmer Laird, President
Back to the Farm Research Foundation
Davidson, SK

Circulated by:

Saskatchewan Eco Network
#203-115 2nd Ave. North
Saskatoon, SK
S7K 2B1

phone: (306) 652-1275
fax: (306) 665-2128
SEN website:

The Saskatchewan Eco Network is an
affiliate of the Canadian Environmental Network
CEN website: