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Profile: Ann Clark

Positions that Ann Clark has held:

  • Professor of plant biology at the University of Guelph

Quotes

(June 2001)

“Let’s say you know that you have one or more of Roundup Ready, Liberty Link, Navigator/Compas or SMART canola (tolerant to the herbicides glyphosate, glufosinate ammonium, bromoxynil, or some ALS inhibitors, respectively) on your land. You know this because, like Schmeiser, the plants didn’t die when you used the corresponding herbicide. So, what do you do? Do you call up the company (Monsanto, Aventis, and/or Pioneer, respectively), inform them that you have infringed upon their respective patent(s), and ask them to come out for a visit—then hope they arrive with a sprayer and not a subpoena? If the former, no one will ever know, will they? Or do you wait for a neighbour to report you for suspected brownbagging, using the anonymous hotline set up by Monsanto for that purpose? If the respective compan(-ies) come out and actually do spray out the offending plants, do you call them back again a few weeks later, when late germinating canola has emerged in your wheat or pea crop? How is it that they are going to eradicate these late germinating, potentially seed-bearing HT plants in your established crop? Will they compensate you for damage done to your crop in the process, or from spray drift (a particular problem with the herbicide of choice, 2,4-D) to your adjoining crops—or your neighbours’? What if it was canola you were intending to plant in the contaminated field? You know that you will not be able to distinguish volunteer HT canola from whatever canola you have planted. You know that volunteer HT canola will set seed and shatter, just like your sown canola, recontaminating the land with patent-infringing seed. By definition, if you grow canola on land known to have HT canola in the seed bank, your problems will necessarily amplify over time. Where you had one HT plant this year, you could have dozens next year. So—do you abstain from growing canola entirely? For how long, given that fresh contamination can occur annually? Or do you take responsibility yourself for eliminating the proprietary plants? Do you adjust your crop rotation, your herbicide expenditures—and your bottom line—to cope with contamination that you did not want and could not stop, and that will reoccur annually so long as neighbours choose to grow HT canola? Why should non-GM growers be obliged to adjust their rotation and herbicide schedules and field design in order to protect their own crops from contamination from neighbouring GM crops? Why should non-GM growers have to absorb costs of coping with gene flow that is unwanted, involuntary and unavoidable—or face prosecution? Why should those who have managed their crop specifically for the high-premium GM-free market be forced to lose the premium because of contamination from neighbouring land? Why should any farmer be forced to accept GM contamination in the seed they sow on their own land? Why should taxpayers be obliged to support the mushrooming government infrastructure needed to monitor, regulate, and negotiate to keep GM crops in the marketplace, and the virtually endless costs of recalling contaminated seed and food products from the market? Why should consumers have to pay more for food that is worth no more (and arguably, less to them) because the costs of dealing with unwanted GM both on the farm and in the marketplace must, necessarily, be passed on to the consumer? Why should all growers be penalized by plummeting crop prices incurred because a minority of growers chose to grow GM, causing traditional clients to refuse to buy GM-contaminated grain and instead to patronize offshore sources?… What happens when the traits that move are not HT, but vaccines, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and industrial enzymes? When is the Canadian government going to stop promoting the commercialization of a technology which has so clearly been released prematurely into the marketplace, and which so clearly externalizes its true costs of production involuntarily and unavoidably to its own citizens?” [Catholic New Times, 6/17/2001]

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