Alfalfa protestors baffle shoppers, media

A ragtag group of protestors gathered recently in front of the constituency office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Calgary.

A ragtag group of protestors gathered recently in front of the constituency office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Calgary. The office is located in a mall and local shoppers have probably become immune to seeing protestors gather there almost every day, shouting about one cause or another.

Not that the protestors care what the locals think. They are there to attract the media. They are usually successful in duping some gullible media into attending — especially on a slow news day.

Noisy protestors with provocative signs make good visuals for TV cameras, and most protest groups employ a well-trained spokesperson to recite some heated rhetoric on whatever the issue of the day to naïve reporters. After the media gets its material and images, the protestors dump their signs, go to the coffee shop and they are done for the day. If the media is prompt, the whole exercise is usually over in a couple of hours in the morning — it’s kind of a regular job for both sides.

Depending on space and late-breaking news events, the protest will appear on the 5 o’clock news and in next morning’s newspapers. Because of timing, it’s important for both sides to get it all wrapped up by noon, besides they don’t want to miss lunchtime. It’s an understanding the protest business and the media have about how these things are run.

Which brings us to the protest cause in question.

On schedule, protestors appeared in front of Harper’s offices waving signs demanding that GM Alfalfa not be registered by the CFIA and not be allowed to be sold in Canada. The protest was organized by the National Farmers Union (NFU) and was supported by the usual gang of anti-GM suspects. It was part of a national protest to bring this earth-shaking issue to the public’s attention.

I would expect that the protestors would be the same ones that go to anti-oilsands, anti-meat, anti-capitalism and anti-anything protest events in general.

I expect the folks working in the offices of these lobby groups are faced with compulsory attendance as part of their jobs. One wonders if they even knew what Alfalfa was.

It was probably even more baffling to local shoppers who would have no idea what Alfalfa was and how it is used, or whether it was GM or not. The only shaky link was that it supposedly could affect the production of organic honey, which strikes me as not being big on consumers’ shopping list.

In fact, I believe consumers have become immune to the fearmongering about GM plants and food. With no one dying or getting sick from any GM food since they first appeared 12 years ago, it’s hard to get the average citizen excited about this issue.

It’s hard to understand the motive of the NFU in organizing this event. It’s unlikely to change the CFIA agenda, considering they have to follow a scientific protocol for registration. Any political consideration is nonexistent, because the Conservative federal government is no friend of the far-left NFU folks. And it would seem that city folks and media have no clue what Alfalfa is and what the issue is all about.

From an agriculture industry perspective, one wonders what impact this matter really has on the production and marketing of Alfalfa and honey. Is it countless millions or some obscure market that doesn’t play a big role in the scheme of things?

There are today millions of acres of GM canola, corn, soybeans and sugar-beets being grown across this country. They have generated untold hundreds of millions of dollars of business and income to Canadian citizens. Perhaps that vast GM production and economic activity has seriously affected the organic production of those crops. But that’s up to the organic growers of those crops to adjust to, not the other way around. It should be the same for Alfalfa production — growers should have a choice and may the market decide who is right.

As for the NFU organizers of the protest, they have taken another step toward irrelevancy and isolation from agriculture in general in Canada. I suspect many of the NFU’s own members grow GM crops that make them hypocrites on the issue. Finally, a few months ago, the NFU came out in support of the Idle No More movement, a cause that had no bearing on agriculture. I expect their next cause will be to support the flat-earth society.