Tag Archives: genetically modified

Rejecting GMO foods

Saanich bans use of genetically modified seeds
By Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

Saanich council took a united stance Monday night in opposing the use of genetically modified seed crops in the municipality.

Councillors argued that the motion, which also included writing a letter to various senior levels of government asking for mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods, was the best way to protect local organic farms.

“I do believe (genetically modified organisms are) a real impact to our organic farmers, and we need to try and protect that new sort of business entity as best we can,” said Coun. Judy Brownoff.

Coun. Dean Murdock, who chairs the Healthy Saanich advisory committee, which brought the motion forward, said there isn’t enough known about any possible health risks associated with consuming genetically modified foods, so he would rather err on the side of caution.

Labelling GMO products, he said, would at least give consumers the knowledge to make a choice.

“You’re going to be consumer, one way or another, of genetical modified foods, and that may or may not be your choice,” added Coun. Vic Derman. “We label whether food is kosher sensitive or not. That’s a choice, it’s probably not a health issue, it’s simply a choice.”

Saanich conducted public consultation earlier in October, and it was apparent from the turnout then that Saanichites overwhelmingly support the ban, except for one lone proponent of GMO crops who says Saanich made an uninformed decision based on unfounded fears.

“The councillors are not trained in the science, and they do not have the ability to differentiate between science and the pseudo-science,” said Robert Wager, who teaches at Vancouver Island University and has a background in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Wager argues farmers can benefit from using genetically modified seeds, which can be beneficial to the economy and can result in drastic reductions in the amount of insecticides and pesticides used to protect crops.

He says genetically modified crops that are drought and frost tolerant, and resistant to viruses and fungal infections. “There is so much research out there that rebuts any of the pseudo-scientific information (that informed council’s decision),” Wager said.

Coun. Paul Gerrard stressed Saanich should take the precautionary principle, and conduct more research to ensure council makes the most informed decision possible, which echoed the sentiment of the Peninsula Agricultural Commission.

While the Healthy Saanich committee sought advice from the agricultural commission, the report that came before council was worded much stronger against the use of GMO products, Gerrard noted.

Council supported the motion 9-0 to oppose genetically modified seeds crops and write letters encouraging mandatory GMO labelling.

Saanich looks at GMO ban

Saanich chews over genetically modified foods
By Saanich News September 11, 2012

After weighing in on such global issues as oil tanker traffic, plastic water bottles and shark fin soup, Saanich has now set its crosshairs on genetically modified food.

The Healthy Saanich advisory committee will host a public meeting next month to gather input from residents, members of the industry and people involved in food production on issues surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and seed crops.

“Healthy Saanich has a keen interest in local food, but it doesn’t have a particular expertise in the food industry. So we turned (the discussion) over to the Peninsula Agricultural Commission,” said Coun. Dean Murdock, chair of Healthy Saanich. “They came back with a recommendation that Saanich introduce a ban on GMO seed crops.”

While a ban is what the commission recommended, Murdock says actions taken could include a resolution that simply states Saanich doesn’t support genetically modified crops, a municipal education campaign or writing to the federal ministers in charge of agriculture and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

“Exercising the precautionary principle is how PAC arrived at its recommendation for a ban,” Murdock said.

From the advisory committee’s perspective, the unknown health effects of consuming genetically engineered food is worrying.
“There’s too much unknown about the implications. And a few studies in the last year suggested there may be some risk. … But there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence either way to suggest there is or isn’t a risk,” Murdock said. “The flip side of this, through genetic modification and genetic engineering, in some cases food has become cheaper, more accessible, and easier to produce.”

Earlier this year councillors in the City of Richmond endorsed a resolution opposing the cultivation of genetically engineered plants and trees. Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie told the Richmond Review that municipal governments don’t have much jurisdiction on the matter.

“The city does not have the enforcement powers here. So it is a statement of our intention of our consideration of the matter,” Brodie said.

Murdock acknowledged Saanich would be in the same position, should it support a ban. He added, however, that local government has a say.<.b>

“We’re simply saying, ‘this is an issue our residents have expressed concerns about,’” he said. “It’s not our intention to step into an arena where we have no authority.”

Anyone interested speaking prior to Saanich making a decision is invited to the Oct. 10, 7 p.m. meeting at Saanich council chambers, 730 Vernon Ave. Speakers are asked to register in advance by calling 250-475-1775 or emailing clerksec@saanich.ca. Written comments can be sent to the same email address.