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From October 22, 2001

Organic Farmers Plan to Sue GM Companies

Canadian organic farmers need money to conduct a lawsuit against companies that market genetically modified canola, according to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix newspaper. The farmers, who are part of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD), must raise at least $50,000. Now they only have about $1,000.

According to the article, some scientists claim that GM canola is a "superweed" that prevents the organic farmers from growing canola. Debbie Miller, a farmer and the administrator of SOD, said organic farmers cannot grow canola and take a chance the crop will become contaminated by GM canola pollen blowing in from a neighbor's land. Organic certification standards do not allow GM substances onto the land, and Miller says any field that is exposed would have to be taken out of production for three years.

The SOD is hoping that consumers and organic producers will contribute to their recently created Organic Agriculture Protection Fund. There are at least 1,000 organic growers in the Canadian province who farm about one million acres.

Producers are concerned that if Monsanto introduces GM wheat it will further destroy the income base of organic farmers. Marc Loiselle, a producer, said governments have shown a conflict of interest by acting as both investors in and regulators of genetically modified food.

The SOD does not yet have a damage estimate. Their lawyer said the suit will be filed next year, once there is new legislation governing Saskatchewan class action suits.