Council agrees to pursue GMO policies after lengthy debate

Courtenay council voted 4-3 in favour

  • Oct. 21, 2015 6:00 p.m.

After a lengthy debate at Monday’s meeting, Courtenay council voted 4-3 in favour of staff investigating options to pursue GMO-free (genetically modified organism) preferential and social procurement policies.

Erik Eriksson feels council doesn’t have the right to tell people how to eat, but David Frisch said the resolution — which he proposed — is more of a stance about labelling food.

“I’m really torn on this one,” said Bob Wells, who questioned why the two resolutions were combined. But he sided with Frisch, as did Doug Hillian and Rebecca Lennox. Mayor Larry Jangula, Eriksson and Manno Theos opposed the idea.

Hillian is familiar with the spraying of crops, having worked in orchards while growing up in the Okanagan.

“We learned through bitter experience it killed our birds of fowl,” he said. “From that, we know we have to exercise the precautionary principle.”

Hillian feels a staff report would help council make an informed decision about the issue.

Jangula, who has discussed the matter with members of the Farmers’ Institute, said a GMO-free policy would put local farmers and most dairies out of business.

“They are terrified at the thought of this,” Jangula said. “We will have to import milk. How will that make things better?”

He also notes the issue is a federal matter.

“How can we enforce it?” Jangula said. “It won’t be just a study. I know it won’t be and you know it won’t be.”

Hillian would like to hear from farmers who feel threatened by the proposed resolution, which he doesn’t feel is radical in nature. He also feels the food industry is ahead of council on the subject of genetically modified organisms.

“It’s a basic premise we want to be aware of what we’re putting into our stomachs,” Hillian said.

Frisch said he’s not trying to ban GMO foods from the Valley but is asking for a preferential policy. But Jangula feels some “nasty emails” he has received indicate the pressure council will feel if such a policy is implemented. Lennox hasn’t received the same emails but would like to hear from the other side — though Jangula notes this is not what she said at the Oct. 5 meeting. At that session, council defeated a motion to maintain the City’s purchasing policy, based on a staff report about a genetically engineered (GE) procurement policy. Voting was the same, though Wells was absent.

Theos suggests altering the conversation by supporting local farmers.

“How can we encourage local investment?” Theos said. “Maybe that’s where our energies can be best utilized.”

Climate change resolution

Council approved another Frisch resolution to acknowledge the reality of human contributions to climate change. Council also resolved to continue to take a leadership role to encourage and facilitate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Mayor Larry Jangula and Erik Eriksson were opposed.

Jangula says the issues do not fall within council’s mandate. He notes solar heat panels at the pool are an example of what the City has accomplished in this regard.

“We can spend all our tax dollars on this,” he said. “It doesn’t help us move forward with city business.”

 

Just Posted

Major renovations planned for Washington Inn Apartments in Courtenay

Province doles out nearly $5 million affordable rental accommodation project

Curious Comox Valley – What would you like answered?

It appears that Comox Valley residents have a lot on their mind… Continue reading

Comox Valley students taught to honor Indigenous language

One man’s legacy and one Indigenous language will forever be preserved in… Continue reading

Ginger Goodwin’s Cumberland cemetery grave desecrated

Just days before the Miners Memorial weekend, Ginger Goodwin’s grave has been… Continue reading

Cannabis store proposed for west side of Courtenay

Courtenay Council has approved second reading of a zoning amendment for a… Continue reading

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Slain friend motivates rookie football player to make it with hometown B.C. Lions

Jaylen Sandhu, stabbed to death in 2014, a source of inspiration for promising RB Jamel Lyles

Driver of stolen vehicle caught after fleeing accident scene in Island community

Section of Chemainus Road closed until suspect located and eventually taken into custody

Home care for B.C.’s elderly is too expensive and falls short: watchdog

Report says seniors must pay $8,800 a year for daily visits under provincial home support program

B.C. ‘struggling’ to meet needs of vulnerable youth in contracted care: auditor

Auditor general says youth in contracted residential services may not be getting support they need

Pair of B.C. cities crack Ashley Madison’s ‘Infidelity Hotlist’

Data from the website reveals Abbotsford and Kelowna hottest spots for cheaters

Life’s work of talented B.C. sculptor leads to leukemia

Former Salmon Arm resident warns of dangers of chemical contact

Billboard posted along B.C.’s Highway of Tears to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women

Billboards featuring Indigenous artwork to be placed in Surrey, Kamloops and near Prince George

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

Most Read