There has been a lot of controversy about how organic foods are so much better and that all GM (genetically modified) foods are not safe and should be avoided.
Parents buy organic meat, fruits and vegetables at the supermarket and farmers’ markets at prices inflated by 20 per cent to 100 per cent over “regular” food in the mistaken belief it is healthier and more nutritious. Usually it is not.
It saddens me to see that even regular columnists in the local papers are advising their readers to buy organic and avoid GM products. It also disturbs me to see that Courtenay and Comox have imposed a blanket ban on all “pesticides” within their boundaries with no input from experts in agronomy and plant physiology.
A number of herbicides that could be used are actually safer than table salt. This ban seems quite incongruent when there does not seem to be any concern by local citizens with the neighboring farmers applying manure on their fields, usually in the late fall, just before the winter rains come.
There is technology available that would make this practice unnecessary. I venture to guess that a lot of the nitrates and pathogens in the manure applied does not stay on the fields and ends up in the ground water, in adjacent fish bearing streams and in the ocean.
I guess one can say it is “organic and natural” and therefore it is OK. I beg to differ.
I have a BSc. in agriculture and farmed successfully, growing grain, oilseeds, grass seed, commercial saskatoons and strawberries in the Peace River Country of Alberta for over 35 years.
I used modern technology, which entailed judicious utilization of commercial fertilizer (in conjunction with soil nutrient tests) and herbicides with limited use of fungicides and insecticides only when absolutely required.
In the later years I adopted minimum tillage and grew GM and Roundup Ready canola on my farm with no environmental or safety repercussions whatsoever.
When I retired, I took pride in the fact that I had transformed my farm land into a healthy environment with good soil tilth, high organic matter content and a low weed seed bank.
A very big improvement compared to when I purchased the properties. The earthworm population was high, birds and mammals of all descriptions were plentiful on my holdings. I honestly believe that I was a very good steward of the land and a practicing environmentalist, which I still am today.
There was a very good article by Gwyn Morgan in the Feb. 8 issue of the Vancouver Sun entitled GM-food activist switches sides of the debate.
Gwyn talks about British environmentalist and author Mark Lynas who gave a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference on Jan. 3. The text of his speech can be found at www.marklynas.org.
Mark was an organizer of the movement against GMO foods for years but has been transformed into a believer of GMO technology. In closing I urge you to pull up Mr. Lynas’s website and read what he has written with an open mind.