Public forum discusses concerns over genetically modified foods

MP tours riding to inform public about GM foods

  • Sep. 27, 2011 9:00 a.m.

The anti GM campaign is growing

BC Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko was in the Village of Keremeos last Wednesday, September 21 to host a forum on Genetic Modification and the future of food at Victory Hall.

Keynote speaker Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) joined Atamanenko along with April Reeves of the Society for a GE Free BC and local  panellists Lee McFadyen and Andrea Turner to bring residents up to date on the latest information on genetically modified crops and foods.

Sharratt was first to speak, emphasizing the concerns that the panel had with the relatively new science of genetic engineering.

“Genetic modification and genetic engineering mean essentially the same thing,” she told the gathering of  roughly 25.

“We feel that it is too early to apply the science to food. Not enough is known about the impacts GM foods could have on our health.”

Sharratt noted that there was 15 years of history behind genetic engineering. The first GM crop was canola, introduced in 1995. Corn, soy, white sugar beets and papaya are GM crops grown in the U.S.; there are seven GM crops grown globally.

“Consumer  backlash is slowing the spread of the science,” Sharratt continued.

“GM science has failed to fulfill its public promise.”

Originally, proponents of GM foods extolled such health benefits as a “cancer fighting broccoli,” but most of that message turned out to be public relations work, Sharratt said. Instead, the industry continues to lack labelling of GM products, there is continuing secrecy behind government decisions with respect to GM policy, and agriculturalists are finding herbicide tolerant weeds and insects growing resistant to toxins. Additionally, seed prices have soared.

“GM has certainly fulfilled its corporate promise,”  Sharratt added, noting the corporate monopolies behind the movement were reaping immense profits – and power – from their application of the science.

“There is a growing movement amongst consumers to gain control of how foods are grown,” Sharratt said, “and the question,  how does GM food fit in to the vision of food supply? is being asked.”

Three products are nearing commercial certification for genetic modification, alfalfa being one. There is fear over GM manipulation of the crop because of the huge risk of contamination to the non GM market.

Local panellist Lee McFadyen also noted that GM science had not lived up to its billing.

“High yields promised with the increased use of herbicides has resulted in herbicide tolerant weeds, and herbicide in everything,” she said. “Genetic modification is adding something into the environment that we don’t know enough about – are these substances detectable in human blood? Greater crop production hasn’t happened.

We should be insisting that GM products be labelled as well.”

Andrea Turner, a local orchardist, said local concerns over GM foods included a genetically modified apple that many growers were fighting.

We don’t want it,” she said.

Panellist April Reeves spoke of the introduction of GM plants that were modified to to produce toxins that would be fatal to insects that feed on the  plant.

“Food shouldn’t kill,” she said simply, “there’s got to be a consequence to this type of manipulation.” She pointed out that earlier in the day, at a forum in Osoyoos, Area “C” Director Allan Patton resolved to bring the matter of creating a “GM Free Zone” to the attention of the RDOS board of directors.

Alex Atamanenko spoke of his efforts to bring Bill C-474 to passage in the House of Commons last spring. He told the group about Wikileaks’ exposure of a Monsanto based conspiracy with the U.S. government to force the science on the public.

“The corporate sector has powerful control,” he said, “and the research they have done is corporate science – not independent.

A lot of advances have been stopped because people have intervened,” he added, noting  that  a population’s voice, united  in the matter could have a profound effect on the direction the science was going.

“GM alfalfa is the most important crop to be concerned about to date,” he concluded, “it’s becoming an issue of survival for our farmers.”

After messages from the panel were completed,  audience members posed questions, with a focus of interest regarding the politics surrounding the defeat of Atamanenko’s bill.

Sharratt also went into further detail with respect to the engineering process that creates genetically modified food, describing it as “an invasive and violent process.”

“The debate is whether gene manipulation matters or not,” she said. “What are the side effects, if any  – no one knows. One thing that is being focussed on is suppression of the immune system.

We are eating corn that contains toxins to kill insects. Is the toxin in our blood? The integrity of organisms is in question – or at risk.”

 

Just Posted

Snowy morning on mountain west of Penticton

Snow fell for about two hours and stayed on the ground for four, says resort manager

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: rain expected

Showers are expected to end by tomorrow

Penticton woman dies after Riva Ridge Mobile Park fire in May

BC Coroners Service says investigation in progress

Celebration of the life of Penticton philanthropist Kampe scheduled

David Kampe, 77, died on May 8 surrounded by friends and family.

From fire to awards: wild week for Similkameen winery

Roller coaster of a week for the owners at Forbidden Fruit Winery in Cawston

Snow falls on Okanagan resort, in June

SilverStar gets snow day before summer season starts

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Licence issue delays boozing while cruising on BC Ferries

Planned June launch for alcohol sales delayed

B.C. school mourns after 13-year-old killed by fallen tree on field trip

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

Civil suit brought against Kelowna RCMP officer after ‘abhorrent’ interrogation

The woman involved in the 2012 interrogation is suing the officer and B.C.’s Minister of Justice

Penticton family honours loved one with acts of kindness, free coffee

The family of Kathy Castle want to ensure she is remembered by the community

Okanagan MP tables bill on RCMP Day in Canada

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold throws support behind Vernon-based campaign

B.C. temporarily halts resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

Most Read