Food fight

Farmers growing conventional and organic crops are in the cross hairs of a food fight with bio-tech corporations on the subject of GMOs.

The ‘food fight of the century’ is in full swing with legislators, farmers and consumers opposing  bio-tech corporations on the subject of GMOs and genetically modified food.

British Columbia took a step toward becoming a genetically engineered free province when leaders of regional and municipal governments passed a resolution to ban GMOs at their annual convention in Vancouver in September. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM)  adopted a resolution to ask the provincial government  to declare B.C. a ‘GMO free zone’ banning the importing, exporting and growing plants and seeds containing genetically engineered DNA, and banning genetically engineered animals.

Among those supporting the ban is Richmond city councillor Harold Steeves, who raises grass-fed cattle in the BC Interior and Lower Mainland. “A growing number of BC ranchers have switched to grass-fed beef. We are making way more money than we ever did when we shipped our cattle to Alberta to be grain-fed, but we depend upon alfalfa. We simply do not want to be in a position where we are marketing beef that has been fed alfalfa that is contaminated,” he said. “We are asking for B.C. to be the first major jurisdiction in Canada to follow suit with Europe and all the other countries that have banned genetically engineered crops.”

Farmers growing conventional and organic crops are in the cross hairs of the food fight. GMO crops ruin the purity of organic and non-organic crops via cross pollination. That is the crux of the issue.

Once contaminated, farmers lose their export markets as many countries ban imports of genetically modified crops for health and environmental concerns. Traditional farmers are also worried about the a crisis in weed management caused by glyphosate-tolerant crops as herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds’ are becoming commonplace.

Canadian consumers, meanwhile, have been blindsided as the lack of labeling leave many unaware that genetically modified (aka genetically engineered) food even exists. The lack of safety studies by Health Canada raises even more issues.

In May 2013 two million people participated in protest of GMOs in 52 countries and 436 cities including Vernon. You can add your voice to the growing concern about the corporate take-over of the world food supply.

I hope B.C. does become a GMO-free zone, and you can help. Remember our provincial motto is Super Natural BC. Let’s keep it that way.

Heidi Osterman