1. recognizing the agricultural crisis as a major social problem; expresses its concern at the stress and suffering of farming families caught in the economic crisis in Canada's agricultural sector;
2. directs the Program Committee to take steps to explore the roots of the agricultural crisis, and to recommend practical ways for the Church, at parish, diocesan and national levels, to minister to those under stress, and to advocate helpful changes in national policies. CARRIED IN ALL ORDERS Act 73
The resolution of the Rural Deaneries of Peace River and Grande Prairie suggesting a Commission on Rural Work was presented by the Bishop of Athabasca.
"The Rural Deanery of Peace River along with representatives of the Rural Deanery of Grande Prairie in the Diocese of Athabasca respectively suggest and request that the General Synod of the Church of England in Canada meeting in Toronto in September 1943 should appoint a Commission on Rural Church Work in Canada with special reference to the Church of England.
1. We would humbly suggest that this Commission should consist of three Bishops, three Priests and three laymen to be appointed by the General Synod in session this Fall, with power given to this Commission to increase its numbers by additional members, the same to be approved by the Primate. The Primate and the Secretaries of the three Boards of the General Synod would be ex officio members of this commission.
2. This Commission should give immediate attention to the formulation of plans for a survey of Rural Life and rural conditions in Canada with special reference to the ministrations of our Church in these rural areas, including the problem of education in rural areas, the important matter of the use of leisure in these areas, the home life, opportunities for advanced training of talented and ambitious young people, the stipends of the Clergy, the condition of the Rectories in which they live, the problem of transportation as they serve their people, the special training of clergy for rural work, etc, etc.
3. This Commission should examine carefully the great and important problem which deals with the place of the farm in our economic life, the financial returns for the labours of the farmer, the conditions under which he lives, etc, etc. This is one of the most important problems facing Canadian life today.
4. This Commission should have the power to co-operate with other Christian bodies within the boundaries of the Dominion as they study these and kindred problems.
5. Other nations and other parts of our Empire throughout the Church have given and are giving special attention to this vast and extremely important subject. Our Sister Church in the United States held its first Rural Church Conference in 1923. In 1924 a Division of Rural Work of the National Council was organized and a full-time secretary of Rural Work appointed. A special publication was issued regularly - The Rural Messenger. In 1925 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church appointed standing Committees on Rural Work. In 1928 a Joint Committee on Rural Work was appointed and in 1931, it gave a printed report which is a most valuable document.
In the USA the National Roman Catholic Rural Life Conference has been held annually for twenty years and this Church is giving very special attention to this Ecclesiastical and National problem.
In England at the beginning of this year of 1943, the Church of England along with other Church bodies has instituted a Rural Reconstruction Inquiry. This movement was inspired by the Oxford and Edinburgh Conferences. It is undertaken because the Council believes that all attempts at the social reconstruction of England will be finally void without a revival of the life of the countryside. This involves an awakening of interest among country folk in the needs of the family, the problems of industry, the claims of culture and the place of religion.
The ultimate purposes of the effort are said to be two: first, to secure that as much thought and energy are applied to the problems of villages as to those of towns; secondly, to "aid the Churches to relate their message and activities more closely to the needs and opportunities of rural communities."
That the Resolution be received and considered clause by clause. CARRIED in both Houses.
1st Clause was amended by adding "and three women" after "laymen."
TORONTO, June 10, 1988 -- Legislation now before the House of Commons raises serious ethical issues and could impose extra hardship on Canadian farmers, the Anglican Church of Canada says.
Bill C-107, an act to establish "plant-breeders rights", has received first reading in the House. The church says there should be public hearings across Canada before the bill receives second reading.
In a letter to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the Church's general secretary lists several concerns about the legislation which would allow corporations to take out patents on plants. David Woeller says this raises important ethical questions: "Something as basic to the future of all human beings as food must be seen in a context broader than that of individual or corporate property rights and must not be decided only by plant scientists and big business."
The letter notes that this is the first time Parliament has addressed the concept of "patenting" life forms. It says once any kind of life form -- even plant life -- becomes established as a commodity to be bought and sold, it will become extremely difficult to draw the line: "The United States began with plant patenting but has moved to allow patenting for micro-organisms and animals.
"Earlier this year Harvard University was granted a patent for a mouse containing human genes ..... There is no difference between human genetic material and the genetic material of any other species."
The letter raises three additional concerns:
First it says "Bill C-107 is addressing the wrong issue". The real issue is to ensure adequate funds for agricultural research. It suggests this should be done through public funding, rather than through increasing profits to agricultural companies. It says there should be a white paper on the future of agricultural research to allow Canadians to consider this issue in its broader context.
Second, the evidence suggests that "agricultural input costs will increase substantially" as a result of the legislation".
-- there will be an immediate increase in seed costs of 10 percent, according to an estimate by the Manitoba department of agriculture;
-- several estimates predict a further rapid rise in prices, by at least 30 percent;
-- the example of pharmaceutical companies causes special concern. These companies recently received similar patent protection for prescription drugs. At that time, the federal government said price increases would not exceed the Consumer Price Index (about 5 percent). In fact, a study by the government of Ontario revealed that more than 1,000 drugs had excessive price increases over a six month period -- and some increased by more than 100 percent ! Many of the pharmaceutical companies responsible for these price increases are the same companies which seek patents on their seeds.
Third, the bill would operate to the detriment of Third World agriculture which has supplied us with much of our "germplasm" -- the genetic material of plant breeding -- free of charge. Bill C-107 flies in the face of United Nations initiatives to ensure "farmers' rights".
The letter concludes by urging the government to initiate public hearings to be held across the country before proceeding with the legislation.
That the National Executive Council convey to the Government of Canada its concerns with respect to Bill C-107 regarding Plant Breeders' Rights and in particular the following concerns:
1. That a wide genetic diversity of plant stock be preserved and their availability maintained.
2. That plant breeding research and development not ignore those crops designed for relatively small markets or for regions with specific needs.
3. That the present level of funding for public research and development be increased.
4. That royalties received from publicly produced cultivar be returned to support the plant breeding program that developed the variety.
5. That the free exchange of research information be increased.
6. That excessive price increases for seeds and plant stock be avoided and that the financial needs and constraints of Canadian farmers and consumers be considered, should any increase in cost occur.
7. That government maintain a responsible presence and control over research and pricing.
8. That the 18 year patent period be reassessed and decreased.
9. That the full implications of patenting life forms be explored in depth and the ethical and legal questions addressed in greater detail.
10. That the question of ownership vis-a-vis the concentration of productive power of food resources be squarely addressed and the ethical and geo-political implications responsibly explored.
11. That efforts be made to develop new plant stocks that are less dependent upon agro-chemicals.
12. That the well-being of the natural environment be a major consideration in granting patents to any new seed stock.
13. That the needs of the Third World, in terms of food production and agricultural practices compatible to ecological and economic conditions, be responsibly considered.
14. That the issue of possible conflict of interest of patent holders be addressed. (In many cases, the same key international companies are involved in the debate over generic drugs, generic pesticides and plant breeding legislation. The question to be addressed is how appropriate is it for the same company to hold a patent on a given seed stock that requires the application of an agro-chemical patented by that company.)
15. That in granting patents for new foods stocks where possible nutritional content takes precedence over such factors as uniformity of size, ripening time, colour, etc., that is over factors that have more to do with aesthetics, convenience and efficiency than with nutrition.
16. That public and open hearings begin as soon as possible so that all sides of the debate may be heard and that the ethical, ecological, political and commercial implications of such a Bill can be more fully explored before any final action is taken.
Following lengthy discussion, it was the consensus that the above motion should be referred and it was:
That the above motion regarding Plant Breeders' Rights be referred to the Executive Director of Program, for staff work as appropriate noting the need for urgency. CARRIED #53-05-88
Recognizing the Agricultural and Rural Development Act (ARDA) Program as one of the most creative and imaginative programs yet developed for the improvement of rural life in Canada and that the basis for ARDA projects is firmly rooted in local participation and involvement:
This General Synod Commends the ARDA program to all rural clergy and parishes and urges them to involve themselves creatively in such local programs as a fitting channel for the exercise of Christian Service. CARRIED in both Houses.