Ethanol plant draws criticism

Nigel Armstrong
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Sharon Labchuk, Green Party Leader

P.E.I. Green Party Leader Sharon Labchuk says she's shocked at the lack of public consultation regarding an ethanol plant that has the potential for a huge effect on P.E.I. agriculture.

The project by Atlantec BioEnergy was unveiled last week. It will see a facility constructed in Cornwall to demonstrate the use of genetically modified beets for conversion to ethanol as a fuel additive.

Some 50 acres of the beets were grown this year in Savage Harbour. The plant is expected to begin producing ethanol by the end of January.

Many of the same people involved in the venture were also part of a failed bid in 2006-2007 to set up a full-scale ethanol plant on P.E.I.

"Here we go again, shades of the late 1980s, early '90s, where they increased potato crop acreage on P.E.I. by 70 per cent by subsidies with no public consultation," said Labchuk.

"They have gone ahead with this major shift in the kinds of crops that can be grown on P.E.I. without consulting the public when in this particular case we are using a crop that is very heavy on pesticides and will affect our groundwater and will affect the air we breathe.

"They think it's OK to just dump on us this project, that is subsidized with taxpayers' dollars, without consulting us, to see if that is what the people of P.E.I. would like us to do, with taxpayers' money first of all, and with our soil and with our air and with our water."

Labchuk said she is part of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and between them they know that "there is no genetically modified sugar beet on the planet except the one that Monsanto owns. It is just a regular sugar beet that is herbicide-resistant because that is what Monsanto does," said Labchuk. "Apparently weeding beets is a nightmare."

The Council of Canadian agrees with Labchuk. It issued a news release Monday calling on government to hold off on $1.8 million in assistance until a consultation process can occur.

"Islanders need to know the impact the proposed ethanol production plant will have on converting thousands of acres of Island farmland into land for growing fuel for cars; the impact of GM beets will have on organic farming; and the impact the plant and GM beets will have on P.E.I.'s groundwater," said Leo Broderick on behalf of the council.

Both the council and Labchuk are concerned a demonstration project could later evolve into a larger-scale production facility.

"The idea that the facility is a demonstration plant is a decoy to avoid public scrutiny," said Broderick.


Organizations: P.E.I. Green Party, Monsanto, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

Geographic location: P.E.I., Cornwall, Savage Harbour Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Captain Canuck
    December 06, 2011 - 17:15

    To EVA. Thank you for researching MONSANTO. I wish everyone would. I've been educating whomever I could about them. What I try to tell them is this: MONSANTO (A chemical company) got into GM crops to develop crops that can withstand herbicides, specifically Agent Orange, which we spray to kill weeds. Then they sell the spray, and the seeds. When they tested canola in PEI, our government kept that secret from us and when the canola cross-contaminated our local farmers crops, Monsanto demanded royalties for using their genetics. Check everything you buy, from cooking oil to potato chips. If it contains canola oil, or was cooked in it then Monsanto got paid.

  • Teresa Doyle
    December 06, 2011 - 16:40

    Monsanto is arguably the worst company on the planet. They own a frightening percentage of our world seed supply. They want to own food. They want to OWN LIFE. Why would our government subsidize a project with such clear negative implications for our province? What will it take for politicians to have a vision that protects our children? We need true leaders and public consultation not back room deals and cozy relationships with ruthless trans-nationals.

  • Sandra Boswell
    December 06, 2011 - 14:41

    Bobbi Cellini Monsanto too BIG? Did you ever read the story of David and Goliath - according to Wikipedia: "manuscripts — all give his height as "four cubits and a span", about six feet, nine inches tall (two meters), but later manuscripts increase this to "six cubits and a span," which would make him almost ten feet tall (three meters).[5]" David was 17 years at the time he took giant the down. He killed him with one sling-shot (not cummulative like genetically modified foods). Monsanto is big, but the bigger and taller they are the heavier and quicker they fall. It will take people around the world to bring them down, but it can be done. United Nations is a good place to start lobbying. Hopefully, Monsanto does not have them in their pockets like they do our governments. Wonder what they promised each other? Whatever the promise it is not good for us. Also what about the soy beans grown here on PEI? Are they also genetically modified. Remember when they tried to genetically modify potatoes and the European would not buy them? Make PEI a genetically modified free zone.

  • Stephen Pate
    December 06, 2011 - 14:08

    How can PEI ever get off Federal welfare payments if every development idea is put down. Development means jobs. It means industry, some of it dirty, some clean. Get over it.

  • Pay Everytime
    December 06, 2011 - 11:51

    Monsanto are the greatest example of corporate greed. They want to make money every time anyone eats forever. India after a strong scientific review threw them out of the country and tha is what PEI and Canada should do right now.

    • Educated & Empathetic
      December 06, 2011 - 14:01

      GO TO Then in the blank Search Bar under the colorful GOOGLE, Type Monsanto then click Search. Prepare for a bumpy ride, the information will knock your socks off. Islanders have to organize and bring This Prov. Gov to It's knees. I careless about politics but have to ask, What bunch of morons voted Them in for another term? MONSANTO couldn't have found a more ignorant, apathetic population, place than . . . PEI. BYE, BYE TOURISTS! For G's sake, for Your & Your families sake take time to read them! Monsanto's Harvest of Fear | Politics | Vanity Fair Feature article on the company's hardball legal tactics against farmers and co-ops, and Monsanto's attempt to disown responsibility for production of toxic ... Support the California GMO Labeling Ballot Initiative Millions Against Monsanto

  • frank white
    December 06, 2011 - 08:57

    the ONLY benefit of having something like this, would be the steps it takes towards producing GREEN energy. except it doesn't - really. it's like pseudo-green energy. yeah it's coming from plants... but it's coming from a food source, GMO seeds, and the use of pesticides, throwing the green-balance out of whack. as much as i hate to say it, we're better off using fossil fuels UNTIL we have a real, solid, plan for sustainable green-energy - which won't pollute our land/water and sacrafice an edible-food crop. worse yet, what kind've investment would this be, when it gets replaced with better true-green technology in a few years, and us tax-payers are still footing the bill on an obsolete project?

  • GiveMeABreak
    December 06, 2011 - 07:22

    This government is so out of touch with what the people on this Island want. This is the last thing we need here on the island is another crop that's heavy on the pesticides and a genetically modified one at that. Should we not be moving in the the opposite direction? Monsanto is going to own this Island in no time.

  • John te Raa
    December 06, 2011 - 06:51

    As an old farmboy and chemist I have a couple of questions that I would like answered. What are the nitrogen requirements for growing these crops? Specifically what fraction will most likely migrate into the water table. If I remember my chemistry correctly, the energy balance for producing ethanol is poor compared to producing vegetable oils for transportation fuels. Personally I favor oils because of the high protein byproduct available for human or animal consumption. As a farmboy I remember late in the fall the last crop to be harvested was sugar beets. Fields would be wet and waterlogged. Full of ruts with sloped fields subject to run-off all winter long. $1.8 million of grants in a demonstration plant? I need to be convinced.

    • Ron Coles
      December 06, 2011 - 10:16

      John The nitrogen requirements for a energy beet crop is 130 lbs of N per acre. Beets are considered a "nitrate mop" and therefore soil tests to 2' are done in the spring to determine the amount of nitrates in the soil the beets can go get. Over fertilization of this crop produces less sugar per acre. Under Renewable Fuels Standards Version 2 in the USA, nitrogen fertilizer is the largest GHG source and therefore we are doing considerable research on growing beets with reduced nitrogen inputs. The energy balance of a traditional corn ethanol plant is 1.60 units of energy out to every 1 unit of energy in. Our process is 10 units of energy out for every unit of energy in. Our process is also neutral for thermal heat and electrical. We produce surpluses of water which is extracted from the beets. As well we produce crop nutrients from our byproducts. In 5 years of growing 600 acres of beet trials in the Maritimes, we have not used any pesticides or fungicides on our beet fields. The beets are also harvested starting in early October which follows the harvest time of potatoes. As you know beets at harvest have considerable tops to the plants. This is left behind in the field at harvest and provides 4 tons per acre of organic matter which greatly aids in soil erosion. Thanks.

  • Bobbi Cellini
    December 06, 2011 - 01:16

    "Monsanto is big. You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay.” Also frm Vanity Fair article found through Google- (NOTE:- G.M means genetically modifided) Monsanto Developed G.M. seeds that would resist its own HERBICIDE, ROUNDUP, offering Farmers a convenient way to spray fields with weed Killer without affecting crops. Monsanto then patented the seeds. Farmers who buy Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready Seeds are required to sign an agreement promising not to save the Seed produced after each harvest for re-planting, or to sell the seed to other Farmers. This means that Farmers must buy new seed every year. Those increased sales, coupled with ballooning sales of its ROUNDUP Weed KILLER, have been a bonanza for Monsanto. $ Sandra Boswell COMMENTOTORS, Pls. post Web sites to verify Your concerns-comments. Unfortunatly (for them & us)seems to be too many Islanders that don't-won't, don't know how to take time to Internet Search, about what they read & hear in the Media & frm. ALL Levels of Government.

    • EVA
      December 06, 2011 - 12:30

      OMG, Islanders be wise follow Bobbi Cellini's wise advice. Just did a Google search and I'm stunned at what I've just learned about MONSANTO! What the H have Ghiz & his friends gotten We Islanders into, a deal with the devil? THE GAURDIAN Must report everything about MONSANTO ! THIS GOV. IS destroying PEI all on it's own. Include Tourism. Who wants to drink contaminated ground water? Monsanto From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article is about the corporation. (MONSANTO KNOWN TO BRIBE GOV. OFFICIALS through "Consulting Firms.".) Tue 30 Nov 2010 - Monsanto GMO sugarbeets are to be destroyed. A federal judge ordered the destruction of plantings of genetically modified sugar beets developed by Monsanto Co after ruling previously the U.S. Agriculture Department illegally approved the biotech crop Throughout 2004 and 2005, Monsanto filed lawsuits against many farmers in Canada and the U.S. on the grounds of patent infringement, specifically the farmers' sale of seed containing Monsanto's patented genes. In some cases, farmers claimed the seed was unknowingly sown by wind carrying the seeds from neighboring crops, a claim rejected in Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser.[12] These instances began in the mid to late 1990s, ... History- Spin-offs and mergers-Environmental and Health Record- identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being a "potentially responsible party" for 56 contaminated sites (Superfund sites) in the United States. Monsanto has been sued, and has settled, multiple times for damaging the health of its employees or residents near its Superfund sites through pollution and poisoning- rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) Main article: Bovine somatotropin -Pollution in Anniston, Alabama, Monsanto had dumped 45 tons of PCBs into Snow Creek, a feeder for Choccolocco Creek which supplies much of the area's drinking water. The company also buried millions of pounds of PCB in open-pit landfills located on hillsides above the plant and surrounding neighborhoods.[50] In August 2003, Solutia and Monsanto agreed to pay plaintiffs $700 million to settle claims by over 20,000 Anniston residents related to PCB contamination.- Legal Issues,It has been involved in a number of Class Action suits, where fines and damages have run into the Hundreds of Millions of Dollars, usually over HEALTH Issues related to its products.

  • Sandra Boswell
    December 05, 2011 - 23:17

    Apparently there is no one in government that understands the repercussions of genetically altered food sources. Government is simply setting up Monsanto to reap the reward of charging for its product, forever. Farmers who grow these 'Monsanto' varieties will always have to pay for the right to grow them. Who made Monsanto God? Big business and governments. It is a well know fact by farmers and scientists that old varieties need to be perserved. This cannot happen if genetically modified seeds are inected with pesticides and other unwanted additives in our food sources . Genetically modified food sources are a danger to humans. Just look at some of the genetically altered crops. In the end the old variety is gone forever, and the pesticide injected variety replaces it. Ask yourself, do I want to eat pesticide injected food? If the answer is no then speak up and let government know. If you don't believe herbicides can affect you then think again. Not only do these chemicals negatively affect human health, but they cause damage in the endocrine system. Thus, this can cause physical, mental and sexual development damage. Sooner or later a female will not be female and a male will not be male, as least not as we have understood gender to be. Thanks to pesticides that often contain estrogen-mimicking additives we now have multi-sex-fish, multi-sex-aligators, birds and other species. Monsanto has played a huge role in the destruction of our universe. After all many pesticides and genetically modified food sources can and do damage your genetic code, and this is what gets passed on for all generations to come. Say no to genetically altered food sources. How does government get away with this kind of stuff without consulting the public. Wow, people would be better to fire them all.

  • I want to break free
    December 05, 2011 - 23:14

    Wasnt it already proven crops for fuel will not work or do we need a crisis on food production with devastating effect on water and air to prove this ! Whats wrong with electric vehicles, maybe a better battery and wind as a renewable resource or solar for creating the electrical power. Car manufacturers are moving in this direction. oh I know lets just ignore what everyone else is saying for a quick fix with disastorous effects but we will make a fast buck and we wont even tell them what were up to. HMMM another government plan that wont work, a bandaid on a severed limb . I know why they dont want electric cars. They cant say it cost more to get the wind so, they would have no justification for price increases the sun wont cost more to collect and IRAC wont control that LOL . It would be too easy for all of us to get our own power then they dont have any control.

  • larry
    December 05, 2011 - 21:40

    these plants stink!!!,,we got the one in collingwood ontario closed because of the smell,and the city of Barrie Ontario,put the kibosh on a proposed plant where the old Barrie Molson Brewery plant was.Belive me on a nice summers day,when your windows are open,this is the last thing you want to have inside your home!!!

    • Ross
      May 23, 2012 - 09:34

      We're looking for an Ontario small town in which to retire. Collingwood and Innisfil (adjacent Barrie) are under consideration. So, you're saying there are no ethanol plants (or applications) in either town? Thanks.