Cumberland council has adopted a policy that does not support the purchase of genetically-modified apples and salmon. For other products, the Village prefers to purchase non-genetically modified products where reasonable.
“We put it into our policy because we have feelings about it,” Mayor Leslie Baird said. “And it’s still up to everybody’s preference what they want to do.
“The government has to start putting labels on products,” she added. “We did a survey of the businesses in the village, and most of them weren’t aware of it. Part of the problem is it’s the places they buy the products from. They’re not labelled, so everybody’s buying their produce and products from the same place, but they said they would do it when they could.”
Council specified apples and salmon because of the potential impact on B.C. products, Baird said.
“People have become very aware of what they’re eating, and where they’re buying from. People are wanting to buy locally, because they can trust their products. It’s not only happening here, it’s happening all over Vancouver Island. And in B.C. It’s surprising when you go to the grocery store and you see people standing there reading labels.”
The non-profit GE Free Comox Valley expects the policy will help support local organic producers, who compete with big box stores.
“Many business owners in Cumberland were supportive of this initiative,” member Linda Safford said. “We are glad that Village council and staff are implementing socially progressive policies.”
“I am really proud that my village has taken a leadership role to support a preferential non-GMO (genetically modified organism) policy,” said Rick Dobson, a local business owner. “And I hope that Courtenay and Comox will join Cumberland to promote buying non-genetically modified products.”
The City of Duncan adopted a similar policy in 2014.
Last year, Courtenay council narrowly defeated a motion to maintain the City’s purchasing policy, as based on a staff report about a genetically engineered procurement policy. Mayor Larry Jangula, and Couns. Erik Eriksson and Manno Theos supported the motion. Opposed were Couns. David Frisch, Doug Hillian and Rebecca Lennox. Bob Wells was absent.