Open letter to Resources Minister Scott Kent:
Spring is upon us and Yukon organic farmers are hopeful. We look forward to the new season and also to at least a partial solution to the very real danger posed by the federal government’s recent approval of genetically modified alfalfa. We would like to commend officials in your department for coming up with what may be a way forward.
Through petitions and other forums, hundreds of Yukoners have expressed concern about GM crops in general. GM crops all risk spreading into our natural environments with unknown consequences for native plants. GM crops all have unknown health effects, because long-term, unbiased studies have not been done.
GM crops all threaten the livelihood of organic farmers through contamination of their organic crops. And GM crops all benefit, not the farmer, but the seed company who also manufactures the pesticides that the GM crops are intended to work with.
The advent of GM alfalfa brings all these threats home to Yukon, because alfalfa is a crop that can grow here.
To deal with this threat, we understand that a system has been proposed under which a Yukon farmer would need a permit before he/she could plant GM crops. Applying for this permit would involve a public debate, where citizens could express concerns about GM crops in their area and an official would have to make a decision on a case-by-case basis.
This is far more complicated than the outright moratorium that organic farmers (and many other Yukoners) have suggested.
But it is an open and democratic process and we would like to see it in place.
We know that this is only a proposal so far. We urge you to move it forward toward acceptance and we stand ready to participate in fleshing out the detail of this system.
Brian Lendrum, chair
Growers of Organic Food Yukon