Only a Few Days Left to Submit Comments on Approval of GM Alfalfa KK179

July 16, 2013

The Organic Federation of Canada has sent out an advisory about the pending approval of a new variety of GM alfalfa that is to be modified for reduced lignin. This Variety of GM alfalfa presents all of the same risks as the roundup ready alfalfa already being opposed by the organic sector and farmers organizations alike. Those wishing to express their opinions about the registration of this new variety have one week left to submit comments to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Below is the original text from the Organic Federation of Canada: 

Monsanto Canada Inc and Forage Genetics International LLC want to introduce GM alfalfa KK179  – One week left to send comments to CFIA

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada have received a submission from Monsanto Canada Inc. and Forage Genetics International LLC seeking approval for unconfined environmental release and livestock feed and food uses of an alfalfa line designated as KK179, which has been genetically modified for reduced lignin.

The Canadian organic sector vigorously opposes the approbation of GM alfalfa because the alfalfa crop is essential to organic production and the risk of contamination of organic alfalfa by GM alfalfa is documented as being very high. See this report from CBAN for more information  

Comments to CFIA can be received  via the Internet. Click Here to submit your comment. 

CFIA reports that:

·          Alfalfa is the most important forage crop species in Canada and is recognized as the most widely adapted agronomic crop.  Alfalfa (pure stand plus mixtures) is the third largest crop by area in Canada with over 4.5 million hectares under production (Statistics Canada, 2002).

·          Alfalfa is grown in all provinces, but is of greatest significance in the three Prairie Provinces accounting for 75 percent of the total national production area of pure alfalfa or alfalfa mixtures, while Ontario and Quebec account for approximately 20 percent of the total alfalfa area under production.

·          Canada is the world’s leading exporter of alfalfa pellets (350,000 tonnes annually) and second largest exporter of alfalfa cubes (225,000 tonnes annually) (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2003).

·          Canada exported 5.2 and 8.8 million kilograms of certified and other than certified alfalfa seed, respectively in 2001/02 (Canadian Seed Trade Association, 2003). Greater than 95 percent of the alfalfa seed for export produced in Canada originates in the three Prairie Provinces.

·          Alfalfa is highly valued for animal feed because of its high protein content, high intake potential, and digestibility. Alfalfa can provide the sole plant component in many livestock feeding programs when supplemented with the proper minerals. The majority of alfalfa produced in Canada is grown in mixture with perennial forage grasses to extend the usefulness of the crop and reduce alfalfa induced bloating in animals. Alfalfa will tolerate rotational grazing, but stands may be weakened under heavier grazing pressure. Alfalfa may be grown in pure stands for quality livestock feed high in crude protein, for on-farm storage as dried hay or haylage or for dehydration processing into meal or pellets.

·          Alfalfa is an important rotational crop. Alfalfa improves soil structure due to the effects of a large deeply penetrating taproot that contributes to soil aeration and organic matter content. Established alfalfa when plowed down, contributes significantly to the nitrogen requirement of following crops in the rotation. A thick forage stand containing at least 50% legume such as alfalfa, will contribute 100 kg/ha nitrogen to the nitrogen requirement of the following crop (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, 2003a). Alfalfa also serves as an important break crop for pests specific to other crops, especially cereal and corn crops.

·          Alfalfa, along with other cultivated crops such as clover and canola, is a source of pollen for foraging honey bees. Canada is the sixth largest producer of honey in the world and in 2002, 8,884 beekeepers maintained 585,683 beehives and produced 33,297 tonnes of honey of which half was exported (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2003).

Alfalfa is a perennial crop; the alfalfa cross-pollination rate is very high as pollen can be carried over kilometres by insects. The alfalfa cross- pollination rate can reach 22% of plants within a one kilometer radius of a GM alfalfa crop.

Given the importance of  alfalfa in organic production, and given the high contamination risk, the organic sector is invited to vigorously oppose the approval of GM alfalfa KK179

Click here to express your concerns.

Comment period will end July 18 2013.

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