Dr. Erica Miller, with Tri-State
treats a Northern Gannet bird,
covered in oil from the massive spill. (AP)
Thank you very much for your support of my Private Members Bill (PMB), C-474 - An Act respecting seeds regulations (analysis of potential harm). I have taken the liberty of providing you with my news release on this issue.
Alex Atamanenko, MP
BC Southern Interior
NDP Agriculture critic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 15, 2010
HISTORIC NDP GMO Bill PASSES CRUCIAL VOTE
Law would protect farmers by ensuring export markets are considered before GMO approval
OTTAWA – A private members bill to protect farmers by calling for an analysis of potential harm to export markets prior to approving new genetically engineered seeds has passed second reading in the House of Commons. Bill C-474, proposed by New Democrat Agriculture Critic Alex Atamanenko (BC-Southern Interior), will move to committee for further study.
“Despite intense lobbying efforts by the biotech industry and the Conservative government to nip this bill in the bud, the opposition parties voted instead to protect the economic interests of farmers,” said Atamanenko. “I couldn’t be happier that Parliament has made this historic decision.”
This is the first time a bill to change the rules on GMOs has passed second reading in the House.
Atamanenko believes that the government‘s science-only approach to how GMO’s are regulated is irresponsible because it completely ignores market considerations.
“It was the government’s lax regulatory process that allowed GE Triffid flax to shut out Canadian flax exports from its key markets and hurt farmers,” explained Atamanenko. “For the first time, Parliament has a chance to seriously consider a regulatory mechanism that will ensure farmers are never again faced with rejection in our export markets because we allow the introduction of GE technologies that they have not approved.”
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It is believed to be the first time such a research group has so clearly stated a link between global warming and such obvious consequences as the massive, frequent and catastrophic flooding which has occurred on the Red River over the past century or so.
The Institute has done what it calls "a prairie-wide cumulative stress analysis" of prairie water resources. It finds a significant part of southern Manitoba, including much of the Red River Valley (the Red flows into Lake Winnipeg), suffers from a high demand for water, a high risk of damage to water quality and, despite the catastrophic flooding events, an actual shortage of supply!
And, even with more frequent ands severe rainstorms, the IISD predicts problems for agriculture due to increasing drought and negative water quality impacts. This is because these irregular and extreme storms will produce heavy nutrient loads and longer periods of low flow in streams and rivers. (Nutrients such as phosphorous have, for years, been lending to huge growths of algae In Lake Winnipeg. The algae, in turn, clog the lake and rob it of oxygen, harming fish life.)
Increasing problems brought on by climate change, adds the IISD, will also bring increasing tension over the widespread practice by farmers of digging drainage ditches on their land to get rid of excess water. It says such drainage conflicts with the idea of adapting to climate change by storing runoff water for use later.
In an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, the Institute's lead researcher on the project, Dr. Hank Venema, said, "It's in the agricultural industry's best interests not to do this, (drainage) given the nature of climate-change projections. But those guys are under extreme pressures to squeeze profits out of increasingly small margins," he told the paper.
The Institute is also critical of short-term measures like government money for drainage projects, flood protection and even disaster assistance after flooding, when it might have been better used for long-term management and governance of watersheds.
The study suggests there should be a major shift away from what it calls our present "hard path" approach to water management. This places the emphasis on big, expensive water projects, which are centrally managed, to meet whatever the demand might be.
The Institute calls instead for a "soft path" philosophy, which would develop more evenly distributed, relatively small-scale energy sources. Traditionally, "soft-path" systems stress conservation and the careful managing of the demand side.
Despite this gloomy and uncertain era of climate change we are now living through, the Institute sounds this note of optomism in its summary;
"We propose that Manitoba is now on the cusp of a new era of water policy (the Adaptation Era), where the nature of climate change impacts makes the rationale for reintegrating across the land-water divide obvious. Increased awareness that
climate change exacerbates Lake Winnipeg eutrophication will reinforce high-level political commitment to an integrated response."