Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

The CFFO Commentary: Biotechnology Will Remain an Ongoing Discussion for Farmers

By John Clement

April 8, 2011


The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario has had a number of long, focused conversations about the role of Genetically Modified Organisms in agriculture. It’s a lightning rod of an issue, with most people either being for or against the use of the technology. Few individuals or groups seem to be comfortable being somewhere in the middle. 

And yet that middle ground is precisely where many CFFO members find themselves feeling most comfortable. Our members started their conversation in 1995 with a seminar series, continued it in 1999 with a position statement and revisited it again just last month at a meeting of delegates. The main discussion points that showed up were how to blend farmer’s natural entrepreneurial tendencies with a stewardship ethic that takes creation care seriously.

 In 1995, the CFFO hosted 18 seminars across the province with a focus on exploring the potential benefits and drawbacks of biotechnology. The impact on the family farm’s viability and the ability to control or regulate biotechnology’s development and impact, along with spiritual and ethical questions about the limits of human activity and crossing species distinctions, were the most important concerns. Yet many also recognized the potential benefits of biotechnology for themselves and society generally, particularly in less controversial areas. The bottom line message from the participants in that seminar series was “proceed if you must, but with caution.” 

In 1999, CFFO members progressed the discussion by adopting a position statement that carried “proceed, but with much more caution” in the title. That position statement carried important components on stewardship, along with an analysis about the benefits and cautions regarding the use of biotechnology. It called for separation and identification of GMO foods throughout the food chain, as well as mandatory labeling and a call for farmers to exercise caution in the use of biotechnology. The statement said “we expect this new production and management tool will create a flood of new opportunities and challenges. They will also challenge our stewardship of God’s creation. New patterns for stewardship will need to emerge.” 

Our members opened up the discussion again at a recent meeting of CFFO delegates from across the province. After reviewing our past statements, members again expressed their satisfaction with the stand the organization has taken in the recent past. But I’m guessing that the conversation is far from over and will continue to pop up on a regular basis in the coming years.  

A statement from a report on the 1995 seminar series says it best: “In the end, strong principles, a limited sense of control, a society with an often contrary agenda, combined with a desire to succeed and participate, appears to lead to a cautious acceptance of biotechnology’s basic direction. In practice, farmers are prepared to examine its products on a case-by-case basis. Yet, this mixture of ambivalence and conviction may prove to be a volatile one. Virtually any response to particular applications of biotechnology is possible --- depending on the issues that surround its production and use.”



John Clement is the General Manager of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham , Belleville , Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston . It is also archived on the CFFO website: www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,200 family farmers across Ontario.

Views: 13


You need to be a member of Ontario Agriculture to add comments!

Join Ontario Agriculture

Agriculture Headlines from Farms.com Canada East News - click on title for full story

Why farmers rely on cash flow projections

Agriculture is a numbers game. Farmers need to determine a fair land rental price or if their operating line of credit will get them through tight times. While uncertainty around factors such as the weather makes it nearly impossible to know exact revenue and expense numbers, it is possible to get accurate estimates using cash flow projections.

Canada’s Agri-Food Exporters Praise Historic Coming-into-force of CUSMA

Dan Darling, President of CAFTA, today issued the following statement to mark the coming-into-force of the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).

CUSMA launch: What you need to know

CUSMA secures gains in GDP of USD 5.1B, according to Global Affairs Canada. Trade concessions involve increased market access to Canada’s supply-managed sectors.

Introducing PLATO, the Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool for Ontario

Keeping soil covered and minimizing erosion is a key principle of soil health.

OFA welcomes new and returning directors to the provincial board

Following a three-week nomination period for directors in five zones across the province, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is proud to announce the return of a strong contingent of agricultural leaders as well as the addition of one new member to the organization’s Board of Directors.

© 2020   Created by Darren Marsland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service