Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Growing Resistance

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Growing Resistance

Article excerpt

Canadian Farmers and the Politics of Genetically Modified Wheat

Emily Eaton, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2013, 187 pages.

A celebration of cooperative action in the face of corporate power and control, Growing Resistance is a must-read for academics engaged in the debate over genetically modified (GM) crops in Canada. Emily Eaton, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Regina, provides a detailed account of the successful resistance to the introduction of GM wheat on the Canadian prairies in the early 2000s, and offers a valuable reminder that issues of farm sovereignty and food security are still present in the Canadian context.

Growing Resistance centres on the Monsanto Corporation's 2004 decision to forestall the development of their GM Roundup Ready wheat, and the years of collective resistance that led up to this decision. Prior to the controversy over GM wheat, the Canadian agricultural climate was already grappling with frameworks for simultaneously regulating and promoting GM crops such as corn and canola. Starting in July 2001, a coalition of nine organizations representing a broad range of concerns (farmers, consumers, environmentalists, public health advocates, etc.) spent nearly three years making efforts to publicly oppose the introduction of Roundup Ready wheat.

The coalition held news conferences, produced policy documents, gathered testimonies and contributed to a working group convened by the Canadian Wheat Board. They expressed concern about the environmental risks of growing GM wheat and the lack of transparency in government practices related to it, and argued that introducing the crop would diminish market opportunities for others.

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Because Growing Resistance focuses on these perspectives, resistance to neoliberalism and corporate control are key themes of the book. Eaton explores how these ideas were in conflict with the market-based solutions advocated for by GM wheat proponents such as Monsanto, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Canola Council of Canada and Croplife Canada, who defended the impartiality of allowing consumers to choose whether or not to purchase GM wheat.

Growing Resistance is based on Eaton's doctoral dissertation, and it reads with the precision and intellectual depth of strong academic research, which may dissuade some readers. …

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