Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM)

Letter you can write to local representatives urging support for GE-Free resolution

Director Rick Fairbairn <rick.fairbairn@rdno.ca>, Director Eugene Foisy <eugene.foisy@rdno.ca>, Mayor Kevin Acton <mayoracton@lumby.ca>, Councillor Jo Anne Fisher <pjfisher@shaw.ca>, Councillor Randal Ostafichuk <lumbyrandal@gmail.com>, Councillor Nick Hodge <nhome@mofp.ca>, Councillor Lori Mindich <lorideann@shaw.ca>

Dear RDNO Directors, Mayor and Councillors,

This letter requests your support for the resolution on genetically engineered (GE, also known as GMO) crops and animals at the 2013 UBCM Convention. The resolution reads:

that the UBCM ask the British Columbia government to legislate the prohibition of importing, exporting and growing plants and seeds containing genetically engineered DNA, and raising GE animals within BC, and to declare, through legislation, that BC is a GE-Free area in respect to all plant and animal species.

Serious concern has been expressed across BC about genetically engineered crops and animals. To date 12 municipalities have passed individual resolutions declaring themselves a GE Free zone (Powell River, Salt Spring Island, Denman Island, Nelson, Kaslo, New Denver, Rossland, Richmond, Saanich, Metchosin, Telkwa, City of North Vancouver) and as you know, over 90% of voters in area E and D of RDNO have voted to be GMO Free. At the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities meeting in April 2013, the same resolution as above was adopted by 51 municipalities.  In addition the UBCM has endorsed four resolutions expressing concern about genetically engineered crops in 1999 concerning monopolization of our food supply, 20006 and 2009 concerning mandatory labeling, and 2012 concerning the GE apple. 

My concerns about genetically engineered crops and animals are as follows:

Safety Questions

  • GE crops are not an extension of traditional breeding methods (or hybridization), they are created by inserting new gene sequences into organisms, often from unrelated species.
  • GE crops have not been demonstrated to be safe; the standards for judgment by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada are lax. When the CFIA reviews an application for a novel food, its “evidence” comes from the corporation making the application and this data is kept secret. There is no independent testing of GE crops or animals in Canada, so the bottom line is we don’t know if these crops are safe or not.

Corporate control

  • GE crops are about making profits for companies, often large multinationals. Five agricultural biotechnology corporations now control most of the technology needed to develop GM crops, as well as the agrochemicals and crop germplasm and seeds. 
  • GE seeds are patented which allows companies to take control over living organisms.

Pollen drift

  • Contamination of non-GE crops by GE crops is inevitable.
  • Some species, such as canola, cross-pollinate more easily than others. If you are next to a farm growing GE canola it is impossible to grow non-GE canola because of contamination from GE pollen. 
  • The same is likely with some of the GE crops that have recently been approved or are now being developed, for example the GE alfafa (recently approved) GE apple (under development). This will lead to significant economic loss for organic farmers, who use alfalfa as a rotational crop.
  • Now GE alfalfa has been approved it will make growing conventional and organic alfalfa impossible over the long term.

There is consensus across British Columbia that we urgently need to consider other possibilities than GE crops, and to support farmers transitioning away from growing GE crops to sustainable farming practices.

May I recommend two important sources of information on GE crops and animals. The first is GMO Myths and Truths, a synthesis of 600 scientific studies carried out by three geneticists, and published in 2012, which can be found here.

The second is a TED talk given by geneticist Dr. Thierry Vrain, who formerly worked as a Federal spokesperson for GE crops but, after analysis of recent studies, is seriously concerned about their health and environmental impact, which can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQkQXyiynYs

I hope I can count on your support in this crucial matter.

Yours sincerely,

your Name,
Phone: xxx.xxx.xxxx