A series of forums to discuss the issues that surround genetic modification (GM) on a local and national level are being co-sponsored by Alex Atamanenko, MP for BC Southern Interior. The forums will hear from Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), a collaborative campaign of 18 member groups working for food sovereignty and environmental justice.
Sharratt has been active in the area of GM foods for the past 15 years. She will be joined on the forum tour by April Reeves from the Society for a GE Free BC, Atamanenko and panellists from local agriculture organizations and food groups.
Through genetic modification (GM) scientists are able to change plants or animals at the molecular level. Right now there are four GM crops grown in Canada, soy, canola, corn and white sugar beet, which are widely used as ingredients in processed foods. There are also a lot of unanswered questions about the risk that GM products might pose to people and the environment.
“I am extremely happy that Lucy Sharratt has found time to visit our area,” said Atamanenko. “She is one of Canada’s foremost experts on genetically modified organisms, and worked very closely with us when I was drafting my Bill C-474 on the economic impact to farmers of GMOs.”
Because the science of GM foods is relatively new, government has been slow to react to the changes in the food industry that GM products have created. For example, the Canadian government has no mandatory labelling requirement for foods that contain GM products, and no tracking or monitoring of possible health impacts.
Farmers and consumers continue to struggle with the implications of GM seeds and food being introduced into the market. For example, Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser went to court over the Monsanto Corporation’s claim that he had illegally planted the company’s GM canola seed. And consumer rejection has resulted in GM potatoes being withdrawn from the market.
You can find out more about what GM foods are on the market, what is coming and what actions you can take to stop GM apples, salmon and alfalfa by attending a forum near you
Monday, September 19: Nelson United Church Hall, 7 p.m. Guest panelists Abra Brynne, advocate for the production and consumption of local products, and Jon Steinman, author, broadcaster and former producer and co-host of the radio program Deconstructing Dinner.
Tuesday, September 20: Grand Forks Seniors Centre, 7 p.m. Co-sponsored by the Grand Forks Agricultural Society. Local panellists to be announced.
Wednesday, September 21: Sonora Centre, Osoyoos, 2 p.m., with Allan Patton, Oliver farmer and Regional District director; Victory Hall, Keremeos, 7 p.m. Local panellists to be announced.
Thursday, September 22: Princeton Legion, 7 p.m. Local panellists to be announced. Co-sponsored by Save Our Similkameen (SOS).
The forums are free and everyone is welcome to attend. For more information contact Alex Atamanenko’s Castlegar constituency office, 250-365-2792, or the CBAN website, www.cban.ca/events.