Mississauga: News & Events

Pictures from the March Against Bayer/Monsanto, Toronto 2019.

Carolyn May Steiss (CSNN Mississauga’s Branch Manager), Jodi Koberinski (Activist) and Rachel Parent (Founder of Kids Right to Know) were some of the attendees for the march.

We wanted to share a petition that is being posted                                                                              by the David Suzuki Foundation. The Ontario government could be putting hundreds of species at risk of extinction. 

Below is a link to the website where you can learn more about this. Sign and submit the petition along with your name and email address.

This petition ends May 18th. It’s so important that you act quickly.

Make a difference! Stand up for wildlife by protecting habitat! 

If the Ontario government gets its way, developers will be able to destroy the habitat species need to survive for a price. Wildlife need you to speak out. Sign this letter to the Minister today https://tinyurl.com/yyt6g43m

CBan Articles

The following articles have been provided to us by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBan). More information may be found in the links below.


In-Depth Update: Glyphosate and Other Pesticides, and Genetically Engineered Crops

This in-depth update brings together the latest developments on the role of pesticides in environmental and health crises. News on the impacts of pesticides, particularly glyphosate, is accelerating as more documents about the science and regulation of agrochemicals come to light.

The term “pesticides” includes herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. 

Pour l’information en français:Guide OGM et Pesticides: 10 mythes à déconstruire” (Vigilance OGM).

Take Action

The National Farmers Union is asking you to sign and share a new online petition asking Health Canada to disallow glyphosate use for “harvest management benefit.”

Glyphosate is a weedkiller but is often also used as a desiccant – which means it is sprayed on crops to dry them so they can be harvested more quickly, a practice that increases the glyphosate residues in foods. However, glyphosate is not technically a desiccant and is not registered for this use. The National Farmers Union is asking the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada to remove reference to using glyphosate for desiccation.

Read the full newsletter here: https://cban.ca/?na=v&nk=7330-b53b2553b8&id=124 

GM Contamination in Canada

GM Contamination in Canada: The failure to contain living modified organisms – incidents and impacts is a new report published by CBAN and the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (OAPF) of SaskOrganics.

Our report documents, for the first time in one place, all the known contamination and escape incidents in Canada that have occurred with genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) crops and animals. The report also details their impacts on Canadian farmers.

Read the report and summary at www.cban.ca/ContaminationReport2019.

Once released into our environment, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be difficult or impossible to control or recall. Human error, biology, pollinator and wind movement, extreme weather events, and other factors make GM contamination predictable.

There have been escape and contamination events in Canada with GM canola, GM flax, GM wheat and GM pigs.

  • Some escape events occurred with approved GMOs (canola and flax), and others with experimental GM plants and animals (wheat and pigs).
  • Some were isolated incidents (wheat and pigs) – escaped GM wheat plants did not enter the food system – while others are widespread or ongoing contamination cases (canola and flax).

GM contamination can have negative environmental, social and economic impacts. So far, farmers have been the first to pay the price of GM contamination. The costs include the temporary or permanent loss of export markets, lower crop prices, the loss of access to grow a particular crop, and the loss of some farm-saved seed.

Widespread GM canola contamination in Canada means our organic farmers no longer have the option of growing canola. Organic farmers in Saskatchewan have never been compensated for our loss of canola due to GM contamination.” – Arnold Taylor, organic grain farmer and chair of the OAPF, which tried to seek compensation through the courts.

Canadian farmers grow GM canola, GM corn, GM soy and GM sugarbeet, as well as a small amount of GM alfalfa in the Eastern provinces. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change may soon approve the production of GM Atlantic salmon in Prince Edward Island.

There are new and proposed GMOs that pose significant risks of escape and/or serious consequences if escape occurs. Read about them in the report. Furthermore, some proposed GMOs such as gene-drive mosquitoes and GM American chestnut trees, are specifically designed to be released into the wild, to deliberately cross with wild populations.

The report and the report summary are posted at www.cban.ca/ContaminationReport2019.


What Needs to Happen Next

Some GMOs are more controllable than others. The only way to prevent contamination from certain GMOs is to stop their release.

We are calling on the federal government to help prevent future GM contamination by taking three important first steps:

  1. Deregister GM alfalfa
  2. Halt field trials of GM wheat
  3. Assess the potential economic impacts before releasing new GMOs

Donate today to help us get the report, in English and French, to every Member of Parliament.


New federal assessment of GM salmon environmental risks underway

The news broke this morning that the federal government is now conducting a new assessment of the environmental risks of the genetically modified (GM, genetically engineered) Atlantic salmon – not just giving a rubber stamp to the company AquaBounty to produce the GM salmon in P.E.I..

Many of you sent letters to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change from our website, asking for a full new environmental risk assessment. A new process is now happening thanks to your advocacy!

Today, CBAN’s coordinator was interviewed on five CBC Radio morning shows across Atlantic Canada about the GM salmon. Read today’s breaking news from CBC.

The news comes after CBAN and 27 environmental groups and seafood businesses sent a joint letter on Monday to the Minister calling for better regulation of GM fish and mandatory labelling of all GM foods.

Your actions are making a difference. Donate today to support more actions like this.

Thank you for your continued support!


Health Canada to review safety studies in light of Monsanto’s role

Health Canada is now reviewing the safety studies it used to approve the herbicide ingredient glyphosate after court documents in the US revealed the uncredited role of Monsanto in some of these studies.

At the same time, CBAN’s new factsheet “Genetically Modified Crops and Herbicides” reports that herbicide sales are up by 199% in Canada since the introduction of GM crops (1994-2016).

Health Canada Responds to “Troubling Allegations”

Documents revealed through a US court case show that the company Monsanto played an uncredited role in producing some safety studies on glyphosate. Many of these studies were also used by Health Canada to approve glyphosate. Health Canada says in light of the “troubling allegations”, its scientists are reviewing hundreds of studies used during its approval process for glyphosate.

Add your voice by signing this petition from environmental group Equiterre, asking for an independent review and a withdrawal of approval for glyphosate.

Glyphosate is the top herbicide ingredient sold in Canada, followed by glufosinate-ammonium and 2,4-D. It is a main ingredient used in the brand-name formulation “Roundup” from Monsanto (now Bayer) which is twinned with genetically modified (GM) “Roundup Ready” glyphosate-tolerant canola, corn, soy, white sugar beet and alfalfa seeds sold in Canada.

Health Impacts of Pesticide Exposure

“I’m not scared to die. You know, but if I have to die, at least I’ll die for something.”  – former school groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson

Dewayne Lee Johnson was a school groundskeeper in California who was exposed to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based products while spraying. A jury found that the herbicide contributed to his terminal cancer and that Monsanto did not provide him with adequate information about the risks. He was initially awarded $289-million, now $78-million.

In Canada, farmers and farm workers can also be exposed to these and other synthetic pesticides. Temporary foreign workers are particularly vulnerable because if they complain about health and safety concerns, they can be fired and sent back to their home country:

“They spray in the morning and by lunch time they reap…the plants are still wet with chemical. What they did at one point was to get the garbage bag, punch a hole in the middle, and two at the sides, and you put that over you. Your arm is exposed. And you pick, and you come out wet, dripping wet.” – Carlous, farm worker employed in Ontario through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and ultimately fired for speaking out; member of Justicia for Migrant Workers. This quote is from the documentary “Migrant Dreams” – watch this clip at 56:57 minutes in.

Genetically Modified Crops and Herbicides

CBAN’s new factsheet reports:
•    Almost 100% of all GM crops grown in Canada are genetically modified to be herbicide-tolerant.
•    Herbicide sales are up by 199% since GM crops were introduced in Canada (1994-2016).
•    Many, or most, genetically modified crops are now tolerant to more than one herbicide.

The federal government does not track which GM crops are on the market and grown in Canada. The government does not track how much herbicides are used, but reports on herbicide sales.


CBAN on TV: Your Voice & the Industry Voice

Last night, CBAN’s Coordinator Lucy Sharratt participated in a panel TV program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin on TVOntario, about the regulation of genetic engineering. The three other panel members are funded by the same biotechnology companies. Click here to watch the show.

The show was prompted by the international controversy over regulating new genetic engineering (genetic modification or GM) techniques called genome editing or gene editing. Corporations are arguing that these new techniques are safer, aren’t really GM, and don’t need regulation or labelling.

The panel members were:

1.    Ian Affleck of CropLife Canada, the lobby group for all the major GM seed companies including Bayer (which bought Monsanto), Corteva (the new Dow-Dupont), Syngenta, and BASF. These four companies now control around 65% of the global commercial seed market and more than 70% of global pesticides.

2.    Crystal MacKay of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, a new non-profit organization funded by Bayer and Syngenta. Its mission is “To help Canada’s food system earn trust.” Its affiliated with a US group of the same name.

3.    Stuart Smyth, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Saskatchewan and “Industry Funded Chair in Agri-Food Innovation” funded by Bayer, Syngenta and CropLife.

4.    Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), a coalition of environmental, social justice and farmer organizations funded by your donations, some foundation grants, some health food companies and some small organic farm businesses. Click here to see the full list of donors in our Annual Report 2017.

Corporate Campaign to Build Public Trust

Gaining “public trust” is the new goal of the biotechnology and pesticide industry because public concerns are increasingly influential.

Corporations want consumers to stop questioning how food is produced. Companies need a high level of public trust, to create what they call “social licence”. This means industry would have an unofficial “licence to operate” – instead of facing ongoing public controversy along with the possibility of more regulation, companies would be confident that they could carry on with business as usual.

In fact, companies are running a national public trust campaign together, including by funding organizations like the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity. This campaign is also government funded.

For example, the video License to Farm was funded by the federal government, the Government of Saskatchewan and SaskCanola. The film says “Farmers face a new challenge. Consumers and activists groups have called into question: Has technology made our food different? Is our food safe?” The film narration continues:

“Public fears about food safety are putting pressures on government and decision-makers to restrict the approval of GM foods and to ban the use of certain pesticides.”
The video views public concern as a problem.

More on gene editing

Last night, Professor Smyth said we need to “dial down regulation” and make sure regulation was as “minimal as possible”.

It was not explained in the show but our current regulatory system for “Novel Foods” will catch most of, though maybe not all, the products of these new GM techniques.

The first gene-edited food product has already been approved by the Canadian government. It is a herbicide-tolerant canola.

For an indepth explanation of gene editing, read the new report from Friends of the Earth USA.

The development of new genetic engineering techniques should be an opportunity to have a democratic debate about the use of genetic modification in food and farming. Do we need it? If we use this technology, what is it for and how should we regulate it? Who makes the decisions?

Thank you for supporting CBAN. We welcome your feedback and any questions about this topic of gene editing or other issues that concern you regarding the use of GM technology. With your support we continue to work hard to provide an alternative voice to the GM industry.

Monsanto to pay $289 million to cancer patient

“This case is way bigger than me. I hope it gets the attention that it needs.” – Dewayne Johnson, former school groundskeeper awarded $289 million from Monsanto

A jury in California has found that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides contributed significantly to Dewayne Johnson’s terminal cancer. Mr. Johnson, 46, was a school groundskeeper who repeatedly sprayed Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro glyphosate-based herbicides. The verdict also found that the potential risks were known by the scientific community and Monsanto failed to adequately warn of the danger.

“I never would’ve sprayed that product on school grounds or around people if I knew it would cause them harm.”

After an eight-week trial, the jury deliberated for three days and found that:

  • Roundup contributed substantially to the plaintiff’s cancer and awarded him $39.3 million in pain and suffering and economic damages;
  • Monsanto acted “with malice or oppression” and awarded an additional $250 million in punitive damages.

“The jury’s verdict found not only that Monsanto’s Roundup and related glyphosate-based brands presented a substantial danger to people using them, but that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Monsanto’s officials acted with “malice or oppression” in failing to adequately warn of the risks.” – from The Guardian article “One Man’s Suffering Exposed Monsanto’s Secrets to the World” by Carey Gillam.

Monsanto, a leader in genetically modified seed technology, is now owned by the chemical and seed company Bayer. On Monday, Bayer’s shares plunged as much as 14%, losing about $14 billion in value. Monsanto faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits in the US over claims that it did not warn of cancer risks. Bayer will appeal the ruling.

Glyphosate is the world’s most common herbicide. The use of glyphosate has increased dramatically with the widespread adoption of genetically modified (GM) glyphosate-tolerant crops.

  • In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency of the World Health Organization, concluded that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.”   
  • The European Commission recently granted glyphosate another five-year license but the French President is seeking a national ban by 2021 and the German government is discussing a similar measure.
  • Earlier this month, a Brazilian judge suspended registration of all glyphosate products in the country until the government reevaluates their toxicity. The government is contesting the decision.

Watch the jury’s verdict being read out. “This verdict is without question truly historic. What Mr. Johnson has done, taking on this massive corporation, the courage, the tenacity and the willingness to speak out against what he believed was a real problem is truly spectacular” – Brent Wisner, one of the lawyers for Dewayne Johnson, speaking on Democracy Now! August 13.

Organic farming prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides and genetically modified organisms.

Check cban.ca/pesticides for more information and updates.

Take Action: Ban GM Field Tests

Ban Field Tests Action

On June 14, the Canadian government announced a contamination incident with unapproved genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) wheat. Several GM wheat plants were found on a road in Alberta in an isolated contamination case – but the government doesn’t know how the plants got there.

No GM wheat has ever been approved for growing or eating in Canada, but the GM trait that was found growing in Alberta was field-tested by Monsanto from 1998-2000. The National Farmers’ Union is calling for a ban on open-air field tests of genetically engineered crops. Take instant action to call for a ban.

“The only way to prevent these incidents happening in the future is to ban outdoor testing.” – Terry Boehm, Chair of the National Farmers’ Union Seed Committee.

The recent discovery of unapproved GM wheat plants growing on a road in Alberta warns of the risks from outdoor experiments with GM wheat and other GM crops. We need to take every measure possible to prevent future GM contamination. Field-testing puts farmers’ livelihoods, our export markets, and our environment at risk of contamination from escaped experimental GM crop plants.
Click here to read our summary of the incident including why the government is confident that it is an isolated incident and not in our food system. Yesterday, South Korea resumed purchase of Canadian wheat and flour after their tests found no GM wheat. Japan suspended wheat shipments from Canada until they can also test to ensure no GM wheat contamination.

“Without an answer as to how this contamination happened, we should be concerned there’s the chance that it would happen again” – Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network quoted in The Globe and Mail, June 14, 2018.

Take action today to stop GM contamination.

Check cban.ca/wheat for more information and updates.

Companies selling GM salmon identified

Aided by information uncovered by CBAN’s Quebec member group Vigilance OGM (GMO Watch), an investigative journalist has identified the two companies that imported genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) salmon into Quebec in 2017: The companies are wholesalers Montreal Fish Co. and Sea Delight Canada. Click here to read the story in MacLean’s magazine.

These two companies sold 4.5 tonnes of the world’s first GM salmon to restaurants and/or catering companies in Canada as well as to some retail companies. The companies that bought the GM salmon from the wholesalers and sold the salmon to Canadian consumers are not yet identified and may never be known. GM salmon is not labelled for consumers in Canada.

In February this year, another 1.5 tonnes of GM salmon was shipped to Canada, this time into Ontario. But the companies that sold it have not been identified. There will be more shipments of GM salmon from Panama this year.

The MacLean’s exposé shows us that companies are listening to Canadians, and that the market for the GM salmon is limited and could close down entirely:

•    Montreal Fish Co. did not respond to inquiries from MacLean’s.

  • The MacLean’s story reports that, “Sea Delight Canada, which sells tonnes of salmon in Quebec each week, denies that it was one of the customers, in spite of import documents that name it as a buyer.” Hours after the story was published, Vigilance OGM secured a statement from Sea Delight saying that it will not sell the GM salmon in the future.
  • Canada’s largest grocery chains Metro, Sobeys, Wal-Mart and Loblaws confirmed to MacLean’s that they did not sell the GM salmon last year. CBAN also has statements from these and other grocery chains declaring that they have no plans to sell the GM salmon: Costco, Federated Co-operatives Ltd, IGA (Owned by Sobeys), Loblaw, Longo’s, Metro, Overwaitea Food Groups, Sobeys, Walmart Canada.

Take Action

For more information on the GM salmon see cban.ca/fish.

The Canadian government is getting money from the sales of the GM salmon

The federal government is receiving 10% royalties from sales of the genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) salmon.

The royalties to the government are part of a 2009 $2.8 million-dollar grant agreement between the GM fish company AquaBounty and the federal government Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The royalties will be paid until the $2.8 million is paid back. However, if the GM salmon is not a commercial success, the company is not required to repay the government funds.

In 2013 the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change approved GM salmon production at Bay Fortune in Prince Edward Island (PEI) where GM salmon eggs are currently manufactured and then shipped to Panama for growing at a small pilot site. The company AquaBounty must seek approval from Environment and Climate Change Canada for commercial scale GM salmon production at their Rollo Bay facility in PEI which now under construction. Future payments to the government are linked to the federal environmental risk assessment of GM salmon production at Rollo Bay in PEI.

“We’re concerned that the government is responsible for regulating this GM fish and also has a stake in its success,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN). Read and share the recent press release.

The GM salmon is sold on the Canadian market without labels for consumers.

CBAN and other environmental groups are calling on the government to halt any further assessments of the GM salmon until the government takes steps to increase transparency in the regulatory process and marketplace, including by establishing mandatory labelling of GM foods. Click here to instantly send your letter to the Minister asking for a full environmental assessment.

What do you think about the government getting money from sales of GM salmon? Send your comments to info@cban.ca

Check CBAN’s guide “How to Avoid Eating GM Salmon”
Click here for details on the federal grant agreement.
And more information on the GM salmon see www.cban.ca/fish

Health Canada approves GM “Golden Rice” not intended for sale in Canada

Health Canada has announced its approval of the genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) Vitamin A enhanced “Golden Rice” even though it is not intended for sale in Canada and has not yet been approved by regulators in the intended markets. 

“Health Canada should not be spending public resources to assess the safety of GM foods that will not be sold in Canada,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN).

Golden Rice is genetically engineered to have Vitamin A and is promoted as part of a solution to Vitamin A deficiency which is a serious public health problem in many developing countries, but not in Canada. Golden Rice is intended for distribution in the Philippines as well as other countries including Bangladesh, India and Indonesia where rice is a major staple food.

Farmers and consumers rights networks in the Philippines have expressed alarm about Canada’s approval. The networks are concerned that a national policy loophole could enable proponents to use Canada’s approval as a ‘safety stamp’ to introduce Golden Rice in the Philippines and start feeding trials including with children and pregnant women.

“We also question why the International Rice Research Institute is seeking safety approval from countries like Canada, Australia, and the US while farmers and consumers in Asia who plant and eat rice as a staple are left in the dark. Promoting readily available, diverse and safe Vitamin A food sources from sustainable and ecological farming is the long term solution to combat malnutrition, ensure food security and health, not genetically modified crops like Golden Rice,” said Cris Panerio of MASIPAG, a farmers network in the Philippines which is part of a pan-Asian network of more than 30 groups called the Stop Golden Rice! Network.

Health Canada posted its approval decision on Friday March 16, 2018 and follows a December 20, 2017 approval from the agency Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

“The Canadian government has just waded into a huge global controversy that should be left to Asian farmers and consumers to decide, not Canadian regulators,” said Eric Chaurette of the international development group Inter Pares.

In a February letter responding to a request from CBAN for a rationale for the departmental review of Golden Rice, Health Canada said, “developers often choose to seek authorization in Canada as a first step in their regulatory plan even if they do not plan to sell the product in Canada.”

“This precedent could set Canada up as a global regulatory haven for companies that want a seal of approval for their GM product,” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec network Vigilance OGM. “The government should consult with the farmers and consumers to decide which GM foods it should evaluate.”

While Health Canada says that the GM rice is not intended for sale in Canada, they state their safety assessment was conducted, “in order to determine whether this rice variety could be sold in Canada as food.”

“We need to first give the people and government of the Philippines time to assess and debate Golden Rice, before we weigh in,” said Chaurette.

Donate today to support CBAN’s research and monitoring.

Volunteer Opportunities

At CSNN Mississauga we want to share opportunities that enhance and improve the lives of our students. Our goal is to encourage participation in ways that build confidence and lay strong foundations.

The Backyard Farm & Market:

The Backyard Farm & Market at Erin Mills in Mississauga has a variety of volunteer opportunities. Aside from being fun you would be working with like-minded people that share their knowledge.

  • Volunteer in the Eco-Kitchen teaching others about organic eating and sustainability, developing your own recipes and learning how to work in a zero waste kitchen.
  • Help organize and run the organic and non-GMO farmer’s market. This will provide training and leadership development skills.
  • Learn more about organic farming in the community garden which grows food for the Eco-Kitchen and to use on market days.

These are just a few of the volunteer opportunities at The Backyard Farm & Market.

For more information, visit embackyardfarm.com.

Plan B Organic Farms:

Learning why we eat organic food is important, learning how we grow organic food takes your learning experience to a whole new level.

Plan B Organic Farms has 30 acres of vegetables, fruits, greens and herbs using Certified Organic farm management practices in accordance with the Canadian Organic Standard in harmony with our local ecosystem.

Here’s an opportunity to become a Volunteer and delve into organic farming where you’ll learn that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. There’s a wide range of volunteer times and tasks available and each one will deepen your appreciation and understanding of what it takes to grow the food we eat.

To learn first-hand practical experience on organic farming please contact – planborganicfarms.ca.