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By Rady Ananda

By a vote of 178 to 98, on February 9th, Canada’s House of Commons defeated Bill C-474, an Act that would have required an analysis of potential harm to export markets before permitting the commercialization of any new genetically engineered seed. Organic farmers now fear the collapse of the wheat and alfalfa markets, since Canada’s export markets reject biotech food.

Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth) and leader of Canada’s New Democrats, expressed his disappointment in an email promising to “continue to take every opportunity to pressure the government to initiate a public debate around genetic engineering and to use a precautionary approach to this important issue.”

Layton advised, “In spite of Bill C-474’s defeat, New Democrats will continue to press the following initiatives:

Bill C-370: Mandatory labeling for genetically modified foods (text of bill)

Bill C-353: ban on the use of ‘terminator seeds’ (text of bill)”

For the first time in the history of the House of Commons, a debate on genetic engineering was held despite attempts to thwart it by the biotech industry, reports Karen Stephenson. The debate on February 8 lasted five hours.

“Joe Comartin, MP for Windsor-Tecumseth, echoed the words that many Canadians agree with. He said, ‘If we don’t stop the four multi-nationals (Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer and Syngenta), they will own all the food production on this planet,’” Stephenson reported.

Defeat of C-474 coincides with the complete deregulation of GM alfalfa in the US. Insiders report that President Obama ordered USDA chief Tom Vilsack to remove the requirement for any buffer zones between natural alfalfa and its franken-version. Scientists expressed dismay that this decision guarantees genetic contamination of natural plants, since alfalfa is a perennial crop whose tiny seed can travel for miles.

This will destroy the U.S. organic beef and dairy industry which relies on natural alfalfa for its animals. Given that Obama’s Administration is stacked with former employees of Monsanto, that appears to be his goal.

The Center for Food Safety is preparing a lawsuit to block this deregulation.