by Alex Atamanenko on Wednesday October 13 2010
New Democrat Agriculture Critic, Alex Atamanenko (BC Southern Interior) is fed up with the partisan antics that Conservative Members of Parliament are using to obstruct the work of the Standing Committee on Agriculture.
According to Atamanenko, all they had to do at last week's meeting was vote on a motion to request a 30-day extension to complete the debate on Bill C-474 and approve the steering committee report so that an agenda for future meetings could be set.
What the committee got instead was a highly partisan Conservative circus.
“It was pretty clear that the Conservatives have no interest in a healthy democratic debate on Bill C-474 and are behaving like stooges for the biotech industry,” noted Atamanenko. “They tied up the whole meeting to not only criticize the bill itself but to wage a vicious and underserved attack against a Liberal member of our committee.”
Atamanenko says that after two hours of this sniping, the committee did not get to vote on the Steering Committee report ,which means that there is still no agenda set for future meetings.
“There is no end to the issues facing farmers that we need to be addressing,” said Atamanenko. “We simply can’t afford to waste the committee’s time and achieve nothing.”
New Democrats believe that farmers, not Big Biotech, should take priority and that any moves, such as allowing genetically engineered wheat and alfalfa into the market, should have safeguards.
“Without the mechanism proposed in C-474 to consider potential market harm to farmers, how can the government possibly make wise and informed decisions on the release of new GE seed varieties?” said Atamanenko. “How can they ensure that other groups of farmers won’t wind up in the same situation as flax farmers did when their flax shipments were blocked in the European market because of GE flax contamination?”