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Ontario farmers continue to value biotechnology tools

Guelph, Ontario, August 5, 2004 - Ontario farmers are continuing to plant crops created through biotechnology at increasing rates.

"Biotechnology offers a useful tool to help farmers control pests more efficiently using less pesticide, and adopt better soil management practices such as no-till", said Greg Hannam, AGCare Chair. "The use of biotechnology continues to increase in Ontario because it helps farmers improve their bottom line by reducing input costs and improving efficiency."

It is estimated that approximately 50-55% of soybean and corn, and over 90% of canola acres grown in Ontario were genetically modified (GM) varieties. The proportion of GM corn and soybeans is up very slightly from 2003 (50%), while GM canola acreage has remained the same.

Farmers in Ontario have steadily increased their use of biotechnology since GM crops were approved for planting in 1996. Farmers have found that biotechnology offers another tool to help them control pests and adopt environmentally sound cropping practices.

GM soybeans and canola grown in Ontario are resistant to glyphosate (e.g. "Roundup"), simplifying weed control and allowing farmers to adopt reduced and no-till management systems more readily. Reducing tillage (e.g. plowing) can reduce soil erosion and stream sedimentation and improve soil structure. Reducing tillage also reduces fuel use and greenhouse gas

GM corn is either resistant to glyphosate (12% of Ontario corn acreage) or contains specific genes from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt (45% of Ontario corn acreage). Bt is a natural soil-borne bacterium that produces proteins that can control corn rootworm and European corn borer, two major corn pests in Ontario. The use of Bt corn allows farmers to control these pests without the need for insecticides.

AGCare (Agricultural Groups Concerned About Resources and the Environment) is a coalition of 17 agricultural groups that represent Ontario's 45,000 growers of field and horticultural crops. The organization provides science and research-based information and policy initiatives on pesticide use, crop biotechnology developments, nutrient management and other related environmental issues on behalf of its membership.

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Greg Hannam - Jackie Fraser
AGCare Chair - Executive Director, AGCare
519-821-1018 - 519-837-1326

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