Anti-GE movement hits Campbell River

URBAN GARDENER: There’s a reason why genetically engineered seeds are banned from all countries in Europe

There’s a reason why genetically engineered seeds (GE, also known as GMO) are banned from all countries in Europe.

There’s a reason why our local Agriculture Support Group  will be asking city council  to pass a resolution declaring Campbell River a GE Free Zone.

There are  worldwide concerns around GE foods. Food safety and human health are the primary issues. Other concerns include the impact on local and regional ecosystems and contamination of other crops that are non-GE.

Ten years ago Powell River residents asked and received support from their town council to become a GE Free zone. The resistance to engineered crops has steadily increased since then. To date 12 more  municipalities have passed individual  resolutions declaring themselves a GE Free zone including North Vancouver, Salt Spring Island, Denman Island, Nelson, Kaslo, New Denver, Rossland, Richmond,  Metchosin, Eco-Village (Cowichan) and the largest municipality on the south Island, Saanich.

At the Assoc. of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities AVICC convention in April 2013, the resolution asking for a GE Free Island was adopted by the majority vote of 51 municipalities. Most recently, the Union of B.C. Municipalities UBCM passed a resolution asking for a GE Free B.C. and it was passed with flying colours.   That resolution was far reaching and read: that UBCM ask the B.C. government to legislate the prohibition of importing, exporting and growing of plants and seeds containing genetically engineered DNA, and raising GE animals within BC, and to declare, through legislation that BC is a GE Free area in respect to all plant and animal species.

We are particularly fortunate in Campbell River as there are no farms, that we are aware of,  growing genetically engineered seeds. The four commercial operations are adhering to organic standards. Organic products are now the fastest growing segment of the food industry.

To declare Campbell River a GE Free Zone would have strong appeal to organic farmers looking for uncontaminated land on which to establish food growing businesses. Within our boundaries are vast tracts of undeveloped land. Our Sustainable Official Community Plan (SOCP) statement  refers to the shift in the way municipal governments, such as our own, are beginning to recognize the enormous opportunity provided by a thoughtful consideration of a more sustainable food supply and its relationship to local community development.

The GE resolution will be brought forward at 630 p.m., March 4 city council meeting. I would recommend two important sources of information on GE crops. The first is GMO Myths and Truths, a report on 600 scientific studies carried out by three geneticists and published in 2012. The second is a talk given by a retired Comox Valley scientist, Dr. Thierry Vrain, who formerly worked as a federal spokesperson for GE crops but, after analysis of recent studies, became seriously concerned about our health and the environmental impact. Please search the Web and there will be found many reports by Dr. Vrain.

We are expecting that Croplife will send a representative to this council meeting. That has been standard procedure wherever a community is asking support for a GE Free zone. I encourage readers of this column to attend. It should be a very interesting evening.

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