(October, 1999) Canadian Organic Growers (COG) represents organic growers, processors and consumers across Canada. COG endorses and promotes agricultural practices that ensure healthful food and a healthy environment for Canadians. In our view, genetic engineering (GE) runs contrary to the principles of caring for and protecting people and the ecosystems on which they depend. GE is a short-term, illconceived and oversimplified approach to agriculture; it does not respect natural systems. Genetically engineered plants, seeds, pollen, microbes and DNA must not be allowed to compromise the natural complexity on which organic agriculture and the food system itself are based. The biotechnology industry must prove with multi-faceted, long-term research that GE foods are safe to humans and the environment, to avoid potential hazards to the food chain from the following: • pesticide-dependent crops that may reduce native populations of beneficial insects • cross-pollination of DNA from new 'superspecies' to heritage plants • modified viruses and bacteria that can cause new diseases foreign to the immune systems of plants, animals and humans. COG strongly urges an immediate moratorium on further releases of bioengineered plants, animals and other life forms by developers, producers and patent holders of agricultural biotechnology. Further, we ask scientists to consider carefully the wider implications that their research could have on Canadian and global ecosystems. COG also calls for an immediate moratorium on the growing of all GE crops. Once these plants are in the field, they cannot be stopped from breeding with adjacent crops and weeds. Some organic growers are losing their livelihood because genetically engineered plants are contaminating their fields. In these cases, the farmers have to begin a three- to five-year process to regain their right to certify their fields as organic. Until GE crops are eliminated, COG demands mandatory labeling of GE foods in the store and in the field. In the store, this would protect the fundamental rights of Canadian consumers to freely choose their food, based on personal preferences and informed choices. This right is, in fact, laid out clearly in the United Nations Charter for Consumer Protection. In the field, labeling of all GE crops will protect the rights of organic and other low-external-input farmers. In addition, a notification procedure must be implemented whereby certified organic farmers are informed of the intent to seed a GE crop within a 10-kilometre radius of their operations. Until GE crops are scientifically and indisputably proven safe to human health and the environment, they must also be segregated from non-GE crops, and from organic crops in particular, at all stages of food processing. This will have the added benefit of creating export opportunities to countries that have regulated against the import of GE foods. COG calls on the many ministries of the Canadian government that support the biotechnology industry with millions of dollars to divert these funds to research on organic crops and techniques, to support for organic teaching faculties and institutions, and to the development of markets for organic production. Organic agriculture builds a foundation that requires and maintains clean water, clean air, living soil and healthy animals, for now and for future generations. This is possible because organic agriculture employs practices that are integrated with and often modeled on ecological systems. Organic practices respect the complex web of plant and animal relationships on which we all depend. These webs of life naturally build resilience and security into the ecosystem and consequently into our food system. Organic agriculture conserves genetic diversity, the benefits of which have been widely acknowledged. It encourages regional self-reliance in the production of high quality food, financial security for farmers and rural dwellers, and food security for us all. Organic agriculture is possible only without any GE components.