GE Watch Comox Valley has been busy speaking to Comox Valley politicians over the past week, presenting its case to ban genetically engineered crops from B.C.
GE Watch Comox Valley’s Dr. Thierry Vrain, who is the former head of biotechnology at Agriculture Canada’s Summerland Research Station, spoke at Monday’s Cumberland council meeting. GE Watch representatives also spoke at Courtenay council Monday, after speaking to Comox council last week. Vrain urged Cumberland councillors attending next week’s Union of BC Municipalities convention to vote in favour of asking the Province to declare B.C., through legislation, a GE-free area in terms of all plant and animal species.
At Cumberland council, Vrain noted studies from around the world outline concerns about GE crops being linked to human health issues; he named Alzheimer’s, autism and cancer as a few examples.
“I came here to convince you, or at least plant a bug in your ear that this technology is not controversial; the testing has been done,” he told Cumberland council. “The scientists, and people of 64 countries in the world, have voted to ban or label GMOs (genetically modified organisms) based on these tests.”
Coun. Gwyn Sproule noted the resolution was endorsed almost unanimously by the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) earlier this year.
“So it seems to me that the general feeling of local government is concern for GMOs,” she told Vrain, noting she won’t be at the UBCM convention, but suspects the vote could go similarly to the AVICC vote.
Coun. Roger Kishi expressed concern over consumer knowledge around GMO foods.
“In my mind, the stronger point is for the consumer, and that’s for knowing whether or not the product that you’re buying from the grocery store is a GMO or isn’t a GMO,” he said, pointing out GE food is already prevalent in society.
Vrain agreed GE crops are already hard to avoid in grocery stores.
“Because GMO crops are so prevalent everywhere — over 90 per cent of soy and almost 90 per cent of corn are engineered — you can’t have prepared food, processed food, canned food in the store that don’t contain corn and soy,” he said. “Corn and soy are everywhere in the grocery store.”
Coun. Kate Greening said she plans to attend UBCM and vote in favour of the resolution to declare B.C. a GE free area.
“I think it’s important for people to understand that eating healthy is more than just eating lots of vegetables, so I think it’s a good thing to support,” said Greening.
For more information about GE Watch Comox Valley, check out its Facebook page.
See letter to the editor by Dr. Thierry Vrain.