A recent forum on genetically modified foods at Okanagan College was awesome.
Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network spoke to a full house of 240, and extra chairs were even brought in.
Heidi Osterman and the True Food Foundation, Wendy Green of the Okanagan Greens and myself on behalf of the Council of Canadians, Central Okanagan Food Policy Council and B.C. Food Systems Network shared our concerns and were encouraged by the interest and support.
The fledgling Fruit Tree Project, a new gleaning committee of the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council, sold five-litre boxes of wild MacIntosh juice, which will provide some capital to run the program in the coming year.
Petitions were signed and ideas exchanged about the state of our food system, genetic engineering and much more.
The threat faced in the apple-growing world due to the GMO application by Summerland Specialty Tree Fruit requires urgent attention, as B.C.'s fruit growers do not want this technology, nor do consumers.
A resolution proposed by Allan Patton of the Regional District of the Okanagan-Similikameen and passed at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention demands the province prohibit the import, export and domestic production of fruit and plant material containing genetically engineered DNA. Our work as citizens is to encourage local municipal buy-in and advocacy for this resolution.
Direct contact with candidates as the provincial election approaches is an ideal way to make this a political hot potato.
It is clear the regulatory process that permits new technologies such as GM apples, GM flax and other products to invade our environment is inadequate as there is no place in the approval process for economic or cultural concerns to be weighed in upon.
Scientists need to examine, at corporate cost, the applications and the science inherent in the proposed technology, as well as the ultimate cost of contamination of our environment with modified plant and animal species.
We simply ask for the "precautionary principle" to be upheld, which was recommended in 2000 when the Royal Society of Canada convened an expert panel on the future of food biotechnology at the request of Environment Canada, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The panel was asked to evaluate the Canadian regulatory system and the scientific capacity needed to cope with products in the future. It made 58 recommendations for change, many of which would have profound implications.
The panel called for a precautionary approach to GMO regulation and made it clear this should not be compromised by the commercial interests of corporations wanting to get new products to market quickly.
Finally, the current and intolerable threat of approval in Canada of GM alfalfa is a real action point. If it is approved, it has many consequences, being the first perennial crop, legume and nitrogen fixating plant, as well as with Canada being the world's largest exporter of dehydrated alfalfa, it will spread the GM feed to animals around the world.
Please take action and support our farmers in demanding the government decline this application, as well as the apple one.