Upper left: Harry Lali

Upper left: Harry Lali

MP Forum provides insight on the future of food

Have you ever really thought about how it is made or where the food you ingest comes from?

Have you ever  really thought about how it is made or where the food you ingest comes from?

If you were one of about 70 people in attendance at the MP Forum on genetic modification and the future of our food on September 22, you were given a bit of a ‘wake up call.’

The evening was co-sponsored by; (CBAN) Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, featuring coordinator, Lucy Sharratt, the Society for a GM Free BC with April Reeves and (SOS) Save Our Similkameen. The original groundwork to pull the evening together was done by Ann Hughes with SOS membership assistance.

Along with Sharratt and Reeves, MP BC Southern Interior, Alex Atamanenko and local farmer and Spotlight columnist Spencer Coyne provided forum attendees with information on genetic engineering of seeds, animals and the genetic modification of crops and food, that are a threat to the environment and to the future of organic food and farming.

Basically, (GE) genetic engineering and (GM) genetic modification refer to the same thing— “Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct human manipulation of an organism’s genome using modern DNA technology.” –Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This is a powerful technology which leads us to the question, “What does this mean for our society?” states CBAN coordinator Lucy Sharratt.

A powerful question as well.

Currently there are four GE crops grown in Canada – corn, canola, soy and white sugarbeet(for sugar processing). GE cotton, papaya and squash are grown in the US and can be imported to Canada.

The growing concern with this is that although all GE foods on the market have been approved for safe eating by Health Canada, there is no mandatory labelling of GE foods so  there is no way for the government to track health effects, if any occur.

Panelist Spencer Coyne explains his concerns, “I got worried about GM Foods when my son was about to be born. I learned that pork farms feeding with GM feed had pigs going infertile—then we’re going to feed the pork to our kids…this doesn’t make sense!”

Alex Atamanenko, MP for British Columbia Southern Interior introduced a Bill to stop GE crops and require “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”

Bill C-474 was defeated February 9, 2011, however during the year long process to support the Bill awareness grew and a real debate over the impacts of GE crops has arisen.

April Reeves for a GE Free BC believes that “farming is an important and noble profession,” and is interested in helping to create GE Free Zones throughout the Okanagan.

In BC there are currently six GE Free Zones, (Powell River, Salt Spring, Nelson, Rossland, Kaslo and Yukon) and the seventh(Richmond) is in the works.

The most recent and major concern regarding GE Crops is that of alfalfa. Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the planting of GE Alfalfa.

Both farmers and consumers are concerned with pollination as the risk of contamination to organic and non-GE crops could be devastating.

To avoid eating GE foods you can eat organic food.  Canadian organic farms must follow standards such as; the non use of “synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically engineered seeds or animal feed, animal feed made with animal wastes or slaughter by-products, synthetic hormones, antibiotics, or other animal drugs to stimulate growth or production and sewage sludge or waste from factory farms and biosolids on their land.”-CBAN

To educate yourself more about the  future of your food,  farming and the environmental risks arising, visit www.cban.ca

To learn more about a GE Free BC and how to encourage a GE Free Zone visit http://gefreebc.wordpress.com

Perhaps a quote made from a member of the evening’s audience sums up what we learned best. “Everything we need in the world of food is out there—just walk the planet.” ~ Glow Lemon

If you think about that, it makes a world of sense.