Getting Behind the Grain: The Politics of Genetic Modification on the Canadian Prairies

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In 2001 a coalition of actors including farm, consumer, health, environmental and industry organizations announced its opposition to Monsanto's attempts to commercialize GM wheat in Canada. Although this coalition consisted mostly of rural and agricultural groups, the three arguments that came to dominate the discourse advanced by the coalition seem, at first glance, to characterize a politics of consumption. These three arguments revolve around market acceptance, environmental risk, and the lack of democratic and transparent process in biotech regulation and policy. This paper argues that producer interests were not displaced by, but rather articulated alongside and through consumer-driven discourses. In fact, farmers used claims about the supremacy of the consumer and impending environmental change to advance their vulnerable political and economic positions as producers of food.

Keywords: Canada; agriculture; anti-GM movements; coalitions; genetic modification

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography and Program in Planning, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3G3;, Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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