Letters to the Editor

You don't want GM food? Apply pressure

Dear editor,

I'm writing in response to the various articles in the papers about the GM-free issue.

This particular proposal is that farmers in the Comox Valley and/or B.C. not be allowed to grow GM crops or animals.

I'm not sure that people understand that, if passed, the food in our local supermarkets will NOT be free of genetically modified organisms, nor would it mean that food containing GM ingredients will be labelled or in any other way  revealed to us consumers.

If this recommendation were adopted in the Comox Valley, it would only apply to crops and animals grown here in the Comox Valley, which are few in our local food stores. The same would be true if it applied to all of B.C. — only products with all ingredients from B.C. would be non-GM.

Much of the produce and meat available to buy here during most of the year, along with a large portion of pre-packaged food and/or the ingredients within it, comes from outside the Valley and outside the province; indeed, much of it from outside Canada, and none of this food will be affected by any GM crop regulations within the Comox Valley or within B.C.

The U.S. is not about to go GM-free because a few Canadians want them to — in fact, they will fight to the death for their right to grow GM crops and animals and sell them to anyone willing to buy them, which unfortunately Canada is.

And even if small areas in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and South America decide to go GM-free in their agricultural practices, GM crops are so widely spread now that it is virtually impossible to keep any crops from GMO cross-pollination and contamination.

Here in Canada, even buying strictly organically grown food does not mean it is free of GMOs, due to this uncontrollable and wide-spread contamination from GM crops; and buying supposedly "organic" food from countries south of our border is certainly a gamble at best, and likely a waste of money as well as food miles.

Also, policing to ensure compliance in the Valley could be a bureaucratic nightmare.

Thus the people who hopefully would benefit from a GM-free Comox Valley would be us organic gardeners and farmers whose crops risk cross contamination, and the people who eat only food that is locally grown.

Personally, I feel campaigning to get government regulation on this issue is a waste of time; unfortunately the government agenda is ultimately controlled by far more powerful influences than us.

The only way to have GM-free food on a larger scale is to use economic pressure: vast numbers of consumers would have to pressure supermarkets into requiring their food to be labelled, and we would have to strictly NOT buy anything containing GMOs.

Only massive consumer pressure that hits big food producers in the wallet will bring change.

Food in the EU is not GM-free because of science or legislation; it is GM-free because at the very beginning of the GM revolution the European population made is loudly and perfectly clear that they would not buy or eat GM food, so there was no point in producing it. And they still feel the same.

So far I have had no success whatsoever getting any local supermarkets to even find out for me whether a few of the staple items I use contain GMOs, in fact many employees don't even know what GM is.

Managers are unwilling or unable to track down suppliers to find out this information, so they cover this by just saying items are GM unless organic.

And they act like I'm the only person who has ever asked to know.  So I can't see labelling happening anytime soon without a very major shift in consumer interest, education and pressure about this issue.

Keep in mind that there are currently huge govt. lobbies by multinational corporations being carried out against GM labelling (they know we won't buy it if we know it's GM) and consumer demand would have to be massive and strong to have a hope of outweighing these.

Indeed, Pandora's box has now been opened wide here in the Americas, and, as many of us feared at the beginning of the GMO revolution, it is now impossible to put GMOs back in the box and close the lid.

Summer Joy,



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