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Canadian farmer criticizes GM wheat, Monsanto at conference

(Friday, Jan. 10, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Edmonton Journal via Agnet: Percy Schmeiser, a Saskatchewan farmer battling the agri-chemical conglomerate Monsanto over genetically engineered canola, was cited as saying at an event organized by an Edmonton group called Biofreedom on Thursday that the company's plans to release genetically modified wheat will destroy conventional farming completely by lowerering production, increasing chemical use and devastating sales to overseas markets.

Schmeiser said before his talk that a recent 100-page report from millers and consumers around the world said they would cease buying North American wheat if producers start growing the new Monsanto product.

The story says that Biofreedom, a group that formed in Edmonton last year, hosted Schmeiser as part of their effort to spread awareness about problems with genetically modified organisms.

Matthew Block, a founding member of the group which aims to educate and advocate on behalf of consumers, was quoted as saying, "Lots of people don't really know why they should be concerned or why they should do anything about it."

Linda Deary, another member, was quoted as saying, "In a lot of countries people are more aware of genetically engineered crops. In Canada, there isn't a high level of awareness. So Canadians really are the guinea pigs of the corporate world, and the Canadian government is enabling this."

Block was cited as saying that a study done a few years ago on genetically modified potatoes by scientist Arpad Puztai, showed that rats fed the potatoes developed problems with metabolism, immune system function and organ development. Puztai was fired by his employers after he released the results at a press conference before publishing them.

Schmeiser was quoted as saying, "Europeans look at food in a different way than North Americans. Food is a culture to them, and they want good food and safe food." Resistance to genetically engineered crops is growing, said Schmeiser, who travelled to 40 countries last year to talk about the modified crops and his troubles with Monsanto.