Comox Valley grower concerned about effect of ‘GMO pollution’

Dear editor,

I am concerned about the impact of the sustained use of GMO (genetically modified organism) technology in our community.

Dear editor,

As a mother, consumer and local food producer, I am extremely concerned about the impact of the sustained use of GMO (genetically modified organism) technology in our community.

With the current push to allow GMO alfalfa into Canada, along with a recently proposed resolution to ban all GMO crops on Vancouver Island, now is the time to speak up for the long-term health of our environment and all those who live within it.

What is the difference between traditional species breeding and GE (or GMO) crops?

Plants of the same species can combine their genes to create plants with new characteristics, and traditional breeding copies nature. Genetic engineering technology, on the other hand, combines genes from different species that could never “mate” naturally (bacterial or fish genes engineered into plants, for example).

My concern over GMOs is multi-faceted.

It includes seed ownership issues (GMO seeds are patented by agri-corporations like Monsanto); the lack of long-term, third-party validated health impact studies; these seeds’ reliance on chemicals (and the associated environmental impacts); and the fundamental right of consumers to choose what they put into their bodies.

And then there’s the issue of cross-contamination.

With the introduction of GMOs, co-existence between organic farmers and farmers using GMO seed is becoming increasingly difficult. There are well-documented cases of GMO plants genetically polluting organic crops, many of them ending in lawsuits by huge biotech companies against organic farmers for unwittingly using their patented genetic material.

The vitality, and indeed the survival, of many local food producers lies in the balance.

At our facility, for example, we produce more than 4,000 pounds of certified organic alfalfa sprouts each week using certified organic Canadian-grown seed. If GMO alfalfa is introduced into Canada, it won’t be long before wind and insects carry its pollen throughout the environment, contaminating non-GMO alfalfa crops.

Certified organic production does not allow the use of GMOs, which means our 35-year-old company will face some crucial decisions in the very near future.

Due to genetic pollution, organic alfalfa seed will be contaminated. Our ability to source non-contaminated organic seed will become very difficult if not impossible.

I care deeply about the Comox Valley. I grew up here, and it was here that, as a teenager, I discovered the joy of growing food.

As a co-owner of Eatmore Sprouts & Greens Ltd., a local company producing certified organic sprouts and greens distributed year-round throughout Western Canada, I have been so lucky to stay connected to food production for most of my life.

GMOs are understandably a very volatile subject in our community and many others right now. Many farmers have chosen GMO technology for many reasons, and I certainly don’t want to suggest that organic production is the only route to sustainable farming.

Genetic pollution, however, is an issue that needs to be resolved.

At the end of the day, most farmers farm for the same reason: to grow healthful food for healthy people. We share a passion for working the land and contributing to our community. I hope this never changes.

To me, what’s important is that we choose methods that leave the land better than when we found it, and there are several ways to achieve this objective.

In my view, continuing and expanding the use of chemically dependent, corporate-owned GMO seeds is not one of them.

Carmen Wakeling,

Comox Valley

Just Posted

Comox Valley RCMP looking for suspicious man in Courtenay

Man was frantically waving at vehicles

Comox Valley golfers prepare for another 55+ Games

Competition, camaraderie name of the game

Comox Valley firefighters assist with wildfire effort

Four Courtenay firefighters are in Fort St. James helping with the fight… Continue reading

Woman rescued from Stotan Falls calling for safety measures

3L Developments did not comment on immediate plans to add safety precautions

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Glacier View residents take a ride on the river

Ground Search and Rescue guides floaters on Puntledge

Two hurt in car wreck on old Island Highway

Honda and Volkswagen crash at 10 p.m. Friday at highway intersection in Nanaimo

Authorities mull evacuation order for Zeballos

Smoke billowed from the steep hillsides of Zeballos on Friday evening, as… Continue reading

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Most Read