A committee of SaskOrganics
1. To prevent the loss of the ability to grow, certify, and sell organic crops due to the release of genetically engineered organisms (commonly known as GMO’s) into the environment and the resulting contamination this release causes.
2. To pursue a strategy to ensure all existing genetically engineered organisms causing health risks to the public and/or economic harm to organic growers are ultimately removed from the environment by those responsible for their release
3. To halt the release of genetically engineered crops into the environment by means of advocacy and court injunctions or other legal instruments satisfactory to the long-term interests of certified organic farmers and the consumers of organic food.
4. To actively build a broad alliance of individuals and organizations that support our initiatives, our goals, and our agenda; and to maintain and promote public awareness of our achievements and goals.
5. To engage people willing to help; to facilitate and co-ordinate their efforts, and to set up a liaison between them and the OAPF Committee to ensure their talents are best put to use, and that the integrity of our position and message are respected.
6. To proceed with the knowledge that OAPF initiatives have the potential to raise general public awareness on issues crucial to the wellbeing of organic farmers, the public and the environment.
7. To lobby all levels of government against the introduction of genetically engineered crops or any genetically engineered substance prohibited by certified organic standards.
8. To raise money for these actions, as well as for the expenses of administration and fundraising.
In October 2001, SOD (now SaskOrganics) launched the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (SOD OAPF) to pay the expenses for the Class Action lawsuit on behalf of all certified organic grain farmers in Saskatchewan against Monsanto and Aventis, which was seeking compensation for damages caused by their genetically engineered (GE or genetically modified) canola and to get an injunction to prevent Monsanto from introducing GE wheat in Saskatchewan. This was the beginning of many other important actions taken by the Committee and their dedicated and passionate members over the years. We encourage you to read a complete history of the OAPF’s work by clicking here.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
May 3, 2023: Despite the objections of over 105 groups in a joint letter to the Minister and thousands of Canadians like you, as well as the advocacy work of the OAPF, CBAN, COTA and organic sector allies across the country, Honourable Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced her decision to publish the updated Guidance for determining whether a plant is subject to Part V of the Seed Regulations. This decision paves the way for new gene-edited seeds to be released in Canada without government health or safety assessments or mandatory disclosure.
This was a very concerning decision for the organic sector. Our ask has been consistent from the start of the consultation process two years ago – a mandatory registry for all gene edited seeds with government oversight. This would ensure transparency and traceability of gene edited seeds throughout the agri-food chain and safeguard organic integrity and certifications.
Read the press releases from: CBAN-NFU-SaskOrganics-
March 9, 2023: The OAPF in conjunction with CBAN organized a day of action, asking people to call the Minister’s office demanding mandatory transparency and to express their concerns about how the proposed changes to regulatory guidance-if approved- would affect producers and consumers. Within a matter of hours, the minister’s voicemail was full thanks to the flood of incoming calls! Thanks to all who took action!
November 2022: OAPF in conjunction with CBAN organized a card-writing campaign to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in November 2022, urging her to ensure mandatory transparency of all GMO’s including those produced through gene-editing, when making her decision about the CFIA’s proposed changes to regulatory guidance. Hundreds of cards were sent to the Minister’s office by concerned producers and citizens like you, ensuring the organic sector’s concerns were heard. Thanks to all who wrote to the Minister!
May 18, 22: Health Canada published their new regulatory guidance on novel foods which removes government oversight of many new gene-edited foods and abandons transparency for the public, by not establishing a mandatory system for reporting these new foods.
Arnold Taylor, Chair of the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (OAPF) Committee of SaskOrganics, in response to the announcement said, “Gene-edited foods are genetically modified, and as such, should be regulated by the federal government as novel foods. The federal government also regulates the Canada Organic Standard which prohibits GMO’s, including those created using gene-editing, therefore they have a duty of care to protect the integrity of the organic standard and organic food and farming for all Canadians”.
Taylor went on to say, “2022 marks twenty years since the OAPF Committee launched a class action lawsuit against Monsanto and Bayer for damages due to the introduction of GM Canola, as well as to get an injunction to prevent the introduction of GM wheat. Organic farmers will continue our fight for the right to farm GM-free and the right to eat GM-free.”
The OAPF will continue to advocate on behalf of the organic sector and organic consumers, and work with our allies and colleagues accross the country to help ensure Health Canada and the CFIA address the concerns the sector has about the impacts this decision will have on the organic sector and public trust.
The OAPF has worked with the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network to produce a report on GM Contamination, which will be a key tool in our effort to build public awareness on this important issue. The report called “GM Contamination in Canada: The failure to contain living modified organisms – Incidents and impacts” will be promoted nationally and is available here www.cban.ca.
The report highlights the environmental and economic consequences, including the cost to Canadian farmers, of escape incidents with GM Canola, GM Flax, GM Wheat, and GM Pigs. The report concludes that co-existence of GM and non-GM crops is not possible and that “the only way to prevent contamination from certain GMOs is to stop their release”. The report is a key tool in our effort to build public awareness and educate decision-makers.
[ 1 ] The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, www.cban.ca/ContaminationReport2019 , GM Contamination in Canada: The Failure to Contain Living Modified Organisms: Incidents and Impacts, 2019 .
In order to continue to do the work we do, we rely on the generous support of our supporters. The funds collected are contributing to the work of CBAN and their creation of reports, public awareness, and political lobbying. We will continue to support this and other important efforts with your generous donations.
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Use our secure online donation form from Zeffy.com. You can conveniently make a one-time, monthly, or yearly donation of your choice.**Please note: While Zeffy relies on donations to make the software free to non-profits like us, you do not have to donate anything to them. At checkout, simply click the drop down menu next to where it says “Support the 100% free Canadian platform we use!” and enter $0.00 or any custom amount you choose.
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Send a cheque in the mail to the address below or send an e-transfer. Write ‘donation’ in the memo or notes line.
** SaskOrganics does not have charitable status. The OAPF is a committee of SaskOrganics, therefore, donations are not eligible for a tax receipt. If you wish to claim your donation as a business expense please obtain advice from a tax professional. We thank you for your support.
The OAPF is currently comprised of the following members:
Arnold Taylor: Committee Chair, Doug Bone, Cathy Holtslander, Garry Johnson, Lisa Mumm, Stacey Wiebe
Staff: Marla Carlson, Deb Tuchelt
SaskOrganics Organic Agriculture Protection Fund
#311-845 Broad Street
Regina, SK S4R 8G9
Gene Editing 101 – the science and its consequences for organic farmers
There is a lot of excitement in research communities and the media about using gene editing for “plant breeding”. The techniques are being widely described as precise and, in some cases, as non-GMO, neither is correct. To help producers better understand the science and its consequences, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) published a new report: “Genome Editing in Food and Farming: Risks and Unexpected Consequences”, as well as a factsheet, “Introduction-Genome Editing in Food & Farming”.
The report provides vital information about the new genetic engineering techniques of “gene editing” or genome editing and the risks they pose. The CBAN report is very timely. It was published just as Health Canada announced its intention to change how it assesses the risks of GMOs, and as the biotech industry’s PR machine speculates about a future for organics that includes gene-edited crops and animals.
Organic producers’ participation in this discussion is essential. SaskOrganics’ Organic Agriculture Protection Fund, in collaboration with CBAN, will be providing regular updates on this issue. To get the latest news and updates, sign up for our newsletter!
*Other resources coming soon