Critics of genetically modified animals barred from Summit on the Future of Animal Agriculture.
Ottawa (19 Oct. 2011) - As a long time supporter of the public interest group, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) was discouraged to hear that CBAN was denied registration to attend the “Feeding a Hungry World: A Summit for Animal Agriculture” in Guelph, Ontario. BAN is a network of 17 groups including farmer associations, grassroots and environmental groups, and international development organizations.
CBAN was told, via email and fax correspondence from Crystal Mackay, executive director of the Ontario Farm Animal Council & AgCare that, "The [Summit] Task Force has reviewed your group’s website and does not feel you meet the requirements for being an industry stakeholder who supports the Summit’s objectives."
The first objective of the Summit is, “To provide a unique opportunity for leaders in the agri-food sector to collectively discuss the future for animal agriculture in Canada, within a global context.” The conference aims to start a process of building a “social contract” with Canadians, noting that the animal agriculture industry “needs to meaningfully address such issues as sustainability, animal welfare and food safety.” (See http://www.farmcarefoundation.ca/feeding-a-hungry-world-summit )
“Despite some public funding and the participation of public institutions, we have been excluded,” said Lucy Sharratt, CBAN’s Coordinator. “We can only conclude that the industry wants to shield its members from the depth of public anger over the prospect of genetically modified animals.”
“It's disturbing that Summit organizers would exclude an organization like CBAN which represents some of those very concerns which the conference is clearly seeking to address,” said Tom Rudge, a farmer in the Yukon.
“The Summit does a disservice to farmers by trying to shield them from the intense public alarm over genetically modified animals, including the GM pig from the University of Guelph,” said Ann Slater of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario.
CBAN has requested a clearer explanation from Summit organizers for the decision.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE