Change with or without government — Michael Schmidt speaks at Canadian Organic Growers conference in Toronto

Yesterday, February 20th, 2010, Michael Schmidt was a guest panelist at the Canadian Organic Growers conference in Toronto.

Michael Schmidt (right) at Feb 20 Canadian Organic Growers conference in Toronto with anti-GMO farmer activist Percy Schmieser and the German Minister of Agriculture Bärbel Höhn, who is a Green.

Here’s Michael Schmidt’s nutshell review of the proceedings and commentary on the picture above:

“The conference was great. Percy Schmeiser spoke as well. I was on the closing Panel of the conference. Theme of the last Panel was Change with or without the Government. On my Panel was the first green Minister for Agriculture in Germany Bärbel Höhn. I had a very intense discussion about Agricultural policies here and in Germany. On the picture you can see Percy the Monsanto challenger in the middle the Green Member of the German Parliament and… who is the guy on the right.”

From the conference brochure:

Stepping up to the Plate … with or without the government

It takes intention, persistence and conviction to change an unyielding world. Sometimes it seems like an impossible task when citizens and governments don’t see eye to eye, especially when governments seem indifferent and agri-biz is content to ignore or counter-attack the concerns about their products. Can we do enough without the government stepping up to the plate? Do grassroots efforts really make a substantive difference? Hear how visionary retailers are saying ‘no to GMO’ as the Big Carrot takes GMO products off its shelves. Hear how one dairy farmer is trying to work with an uncooperative Ontario government. When California passed a revolutionary law that if genetic engineered products are found on your property the agri-chemical company has to pay the damages, it shows what is possible. While your choices matter, will they be enough?

Panel: Bärbel Höhn, Megan Westgate, Michael Schmidt, Wayne Roberts

Opening Keynote – The Reluctant Leader: Bärbel Höhn

The body is amazingly resilient. In spite of the degradation in the quality of our food and the fragility of our food sources, we carry on. Some people are hard pressed to see a food system in crisis and how it affects health. While imports currently fill supermarket shelves, some do not see the need for a healthy, thriving, local farm economy. Exports and imports rule the economic model disguised by government ads as the family farm. At best perceived as a niche market, healthy food and local economies are challenged to compete, while high ideals and determination keep organic growers in the game. More and more we are faced with questions surrounding the use of genetic engineering to grow food without much review. But where is the leadership to guide the organic sector to the next level? Farmers, scientists and dedicated individuals have had to become the reluctant leaders showing the way when it comes to organics. It is not a mantle they wear easily, but the value is so great they cannot do otherwise.

And here’s what Percy Schmieser spoke on:

Percy against Goliath – taking on the corporations …

Percy Schmeiser ’s story is an amazing account of one farmer’s brave battle with a multinational corporation. When his fields of canola were found to be contaminated with GMO canola, Monsanto had the nerve to accuse him of stealing their seed. Percy fought them all the way to the Supreme Court. Hear his heart-felt story. Percy has received awards
from around the world acknowledging his courage and self-sacrifice in fighting this fight for all of us.

Percy Schmeiser with Margaret Webb

1 Comment

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One response to “Change with or without government — Michael Schmidt speaks at Canadian Organic Growers conference in Toronto

  1. Michael Schmidt

    Actually Barbel Hoehn is currently member of the the executive committee of the Greens in Germany and a green member of Parliament in Germany. She was Germany’s first Provincial Minister of Agriculture and was the first one in Europe who implemented the ban of British Beef during the BSE crisis. During her tenure as Minister organic farms increased by 4% through Government subsidies and support. Since I am not in favor of Government subsidies I discussed with her the negative fall out of subsidies and she did admit that they moving now more towards another pillow of Government support which looks at reimbursing the farmer for their contribution to society at large like landscaping the country side, keeping the water clean and providing heritage values to society.
    This is something which is largely ignored in Canada to look what farmers are doing to keep Canada as beautiful as it once was.
    We now look at a nearly destroyed farming community with devastated little towns and hardly any pride and farmers left.
    It does not look pretty in the country side

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