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GE Wheat Debate Heats Up in Canada

http://www.canada.com/regina/news/story.asp?id={03E3C0D6-ECFE-47D7-8E76-76F8
93A53BEA}
Calvert concerned about GM wheat

Kevin O'Connor
Regina Leader Post

19 Feb 2002

Premier Lorne Calvert has added his voice to the chorus of those with
concerns about genetically modified wheat.

"We need to proceed with great caution when it comes to the introduction of
GM wheat," Calvert said.

However, it's not within the provincial government's jurisdiction to ban the
experimental crop from Saskatchewan, he said.

The issue was raised Saturday during a conference call with reporters while
Calvert was attending an organic food trade fair in Germany.

Although GM wheat hasn't been approved for commercial use in Canada, it's
being grown in test plots in Saskatchewan and other provinces.

With genetic modification, wheat can be given new traits, such as herbicide
resistance.

Calvert said although federal regulators have assured the public the test
plots are secure, he's disturbed by news reports suggesting that GM material
could be scattered by tornadoes.

"My view is we need to work very closely with Agriculture Canada and the
research side to be very, very careful," he said.

Some farm groups are concerned that if some farmers grow GM wheat, it could
destroy the industry's export market.

Wheat exports are worth about $1.4 billion to Saskatchewan annually.

Asked if the province would move to block expansion of GM wheat, Calvert
said: "It's not within our jurisdiction, it's my understanding, to rule on
this. It falls under the federal government."

Among those opposed to GM wheat are the province's organic food growers. One
group, the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, is asking for a court
injunction against the release of GM wheat.

Saskatchewan has the largest number of organic producers in Canada.

Calvert said he sees great potential for expanding organic food trade to
Germany after touring BioFach 2002 in Nuremberg last week.

"I want to bring back the knowledge that I've gained here that there is a
fast-growing European market that already accepts Saskatchewan products and
values Saskatchewan products," he said.

Some 11 Saskatchewan organic producers and organizations were at the trade
fair, promoting everything from wild rice to boar meat.

"It's to find out about the marketplace and potential customers," said Bruce
Johnson, president of Farm-Gro Organics. "It's safe to say there will be
several transactions following from it."

Calvert made the side-trip to the fair last week following a Team Canada
trade mission to Russia with Prime Minister Jean Chretien and other
provincial premier.


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