LETTER Published April 21, 2003, The Davidson Leader
Goodale, Canadian Wheat Board Minister
Adrian Measner, CWB President and CEO
Ken Ritter, CWB Chairman
Ian McCreary, CWB Director
Minister Goodale in Conflict of Interest Position Regarding GMOs
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
You are obviously unaware that we may lose 60% of our grain market and
our soils may be destroyed as a result of increased use of stronger
pesticides on GMO wheat.
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.
Quality - Organic versus Chemical
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.
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
Does This Mean in the International Market Place?
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.
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.
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)
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"
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.
Marketing Challenges - The Canadian Wheat Board
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
a higher nutritional level than chemically produce grain.
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.
- What isn't being said by way of warning about GMOs by transnational
corporations is more significant than what is being said.
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
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
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."
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).
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.
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.
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.
Synergetic Testing of Pesticides
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.
Committee on Environment Recommends Subsidizing Organic Agriculture
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.
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.
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.
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
Not In Monsanto's Vocabulary
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
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
Dr. F. M. Balzer Factsheet
Crop Insurance Highlights Pamphlet (see organic options, right hand
(Note these attachments were part of the original letter, not part
of this article)
May 1, 2022 Published The Davidson Leader
April 28, 2022
OPEN LETTER TO:
David Chanasky, Registrar,
Agriculture Institute of Canada
Glen Hass, Registrar,
Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists
1. The ever worsening economic and environmental crisis in Canadian
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,
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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