Future of food

Resident expresses concern about genetically modified organisms

I was among the 200 people at the regional agricultural advisory committee (RAAC) meeting about GMO food Sept 11.

I felt muzzled and indignant. Surely, the head of the meeting did well to keep public comment to a limit but even clapping was said to be disrespectful.

Since the committee will decide the kind of food we can all expect to eat, literally the future of the food is a hot topic.

Yet the audience was shushed into silence to listen to the presentation by CropLife vice-president Janice Tranberg,

This corporate VIP was ushered into Coldstream to represent many corporations.

Tranberg says that food is more scrutinized than ever before and that, today, we have the safest food in history.

The processes in place with regulatory bodies such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada, she says, would protect the public from GMOs if GMOs were unsafe.

“Public policy needs to be based on science and not on opinion, and I think it is the responsibility of a public politician to base their (decisions) on solid science,” said Tranberg.

I wonder if the people believe in her corporate presentation  in the face of public opposition?

May I please remind both sides that we are on the opposite side of our European partners and all the people who protested the corporate grip on our food supply.

Two million people took to the streets in protest of GMOs in 52 countries, in about 436 cities worldwide, May 25, including Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon.

One corporation is changing its image with  claims of, “extensive safety reviews completed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.”

I point out that reviews of the paperwork handed in by the company on short-term animal feeding studies do not prove safety.

Health Canada has not made any independent safety studies.

Is science above being questioned? In the 1950s, doctors (backed by scientific consensus) endorsed cigarettes.

The drug thalidomide was considered a safe treatment for morning sickness and thousands of babies were born without limbs.

Many prescription drugs have been taken off the market after extensive safety testing proved false and people died.

GMOs can never be taken off the market as they are contagious to natural plants.

Where are Canada’s regulatory bodies in all this?

Health Canada approved GMO corn (NK603) in 2001, three years before receiving animal feeding studies that a corporation voluntarily submitted in 2004.

Health Canada takes at face value what the corporations submit. Is it wise to allow the industry to police itself?

With so much at stake for our health, it is time to stop blindly accepting the “safety” of genetically modified crops just because corporations say it is safe.

Health Canada has an obligation to protect our health by conducting its own independent research on the safety of genetically modified food and labeling it as such.

If the federal government can afford to spend $847 million on the G20 meeting, it can afford to ensure the safety of our common food supply.

The bottom line for all of us is nobody ever asked the consumer whether or not they wanted to consume these technologies.

Tranberg says that people have a right to their opinions and that there is choice in the market, by purchasing organic, for those who do not wish to consume GMO.

GMO crops ruin the purity of organic and non-organic crops via cross-pollination. All foods become GMO corporately owned patented seeds.

Farmers and consumers will have no choice.

Heidi Osterman,

True Food Foundation