By vast

Published: May 27, 2019

Category: Organic News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter

The number of organic farms in Alberta, Canada has grown significantly in recent years, driven by concerns about glyphosate herbicide and other agricultural chemicals.

Around 240 Alberta farm operations transitioned to organic between 2014 and 2017, according to the Canada Organic Trade Association. There were 525 organic growers in Alberta in 2017, up from 280 in 2012, an increase of 87 percent.

Eldon Kebernik and his son Brad farm organically near Barrhead, Alberta. They rely on rotating crops to eliminate the need for herbicides like glyphosate.

Kebernik said more people are becoming aware about the potentially harmful effects of pesticides, such as glyphosate, in food products.

“Families are concerned about their children, and what they’re consuming themselves,” he said. “I certainly believe that the market will grow.”

Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, is the most commonly used herbicide in the world, and the subject of an ongoing campaign by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE).

Three juries in San Francisco have ruled against Monsanto in the past year and awarded damages to several people whose cancers were caused by repeated exposure to the herbicide.

The cases have raised increasing questions about the health effects of glyphosate according to Randall McQuaker, pesticide director with CAPE.

“They raise red flags about what health risks could be associated with chronic, lower-level exposure,” McQuaker said. 

CAPE is advocating for a ban on non-essential uses of glyphosate in agriculture, as well as for personal use. 

Meanwhile, the organic food and beverage market in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba was collectively valued at more than $850 million in 2018 by the Canada Organic Trade Association.

With more and more farmers transitioning to organic, the future of the industry looks bright, said Stan Smith, president and co-founder of One Degree Organics.

“Society has begun to recognize that there’s value in ensuring that toxins are being eliminated from food,” Smith said. 

Source: CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company)

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