Organic foods offer an alternative to genetic engineering - Organic Trade Association
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Organic foods offer an alternative to genetic engineering








For Immediate Release    Contacts: Stephanie Wells, (613)-263-0575
Holly Givens, (413) 774-7511, ext. 18

 Click here to read in French

Organic foods offer an alternative to genetic engineering

Greenfield, MA (June 7, 2004)--The results of another ground-breaking lawsuit beginning in Saskatchewan may have far-reaching effects on the future food choices available to Canadian consumers and shoppers worldwide. The clash is over the rights of farmers to produce crops organically and the ever-growing spread of biotechnology in agriculture.

Saskatchewan's certified organic farmers, led by the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, are seeking class action status in a suit to hold companies that created genetically engineered (GE) seed legally liable for the damage caused to organic farmers by the introduction of GE canola. This case, initiated January 10, 2002, follows the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Monsanto vs. Schmeiser, which effectively offered the agrochemical biotech company patent protection and ownership of whole plants, not just the genetically engineered and patented genes inserted into the plant or the engineering process.

Along with questions of liability for the unwanted and uncontrolled spread of GE canola plants, there are a number of concerns about how the use of GE plants affects the environment.

  • Triple-resistant canola weeds have been found on Western Canadian farms such as one in northern Alberta. This resulted from inadvertent crossing of three different canola systems genetically engineered for the herbicides Roundup (glyphosate), Liberty (glufosinate-ammonium), and Pursuit (imazethapyr). Pollination via bees and wind between two fields was blamed for the occurrence in Alberta.
  • A scientific study by a University of Bordeaux professor has found that sediment in the Richelieu River, a tributary of the St. Lawrence River in Canada surrounded by fields of genetically engineered Bt corn, contains concentrations of Bt that are five times higher than in nearby agricultural watersheds.
  • In his 2004 book The David Suzuki Reader, David Suzuki wrote, "There is absolutely no reason to suppose that biologists know enough to anticipate the ecological and health ramifications of a revolutionary technology such as genetic engineering."

For shoppers who want to avoid GE foods, organic products offer an alternative.

"When you choose organic products, you support farmers who grow crops and raise animals without the use of genetically engineered seeds or growth hormones," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, which represents the organic industry throughout Canada and the United States. "Each purchase of organic products sends a message that you want your foods produced without genetic engineering."

Although there is no requirement to label products made with genetically engineered seeds or growth hormones, one easy way to avoid genetically engineered food products is to choose organic products. Organic farmers are prohibited from using genetically engineered seeds or growth hormones.

Learn more at

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the business association representing the organic agriculture industry in North America. Its over 1,400 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.


Headquarters: 60 Wells Street, P.O. Box 547, Greenfield, MA 01302 USA ( (413) 774-7511
Fax: (413) 774-6432 ( e-mail: ( web site:
Legislative Office: 600 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22304 USA ( (202) 338-2900

June 7, 2004

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