"Several communities across Canada have already passed municipal resolutions restricting the cultivation of GE foods."
"Ottawa has ignored Canadians' repeated calls for a public debate on GE foods. The federal government has done nothing to address concerns about the potential harmfulness of these products to our health, environment, and economy," says Nadege Adam of the Council of Canadians. "Canadians have had no choice but to take matters into their own hands."
1.Province in Canada to go GM-free?
2.Another GM ban proposed in California
1.PEI to go GE-free? Province may be next in nation-wide movement to ban genetically engineered crops
OTTAWA, Jan. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The Council of Canadians applauds the decision of the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly to hold committee hearings into the pros and cons of genetically engineered (GE) products. The committee will set the dates for hearings today. This landmark discussion could inform a decision that would establish PEI as Canada's first GE-free province.
Last week, members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Environment issued a call for public input into their discussion. "Ottawa has ignored Canadians' repeated calls for a public debate on GE foods. The federal government has done nothing to address concerns about the potential harmfulness of these products to our health, environment, and economy," says Nadège Adam of the Council of Canadians. "Canadians have had no choice but to take matters into their own hands."
Islanders are not alone. Several communities across Canada have already passed municipal resolutions restricting the cultivation of GE foods. Powell River, BC became Canada's first GE-free zone last year when its municipal government declared itself a "GE-free crop area."
"GE foods offer no benefits to consumers," says Leo Broderick, PEI Council of Canadians chapter spokesperson and member of the PEI Coalition for a GE-Free Province. "They contaminate our environment and have jeopardized our agricultural exports. We, as Islanders should seize this opportunity to protect our environment from this threat."
PEI's debate is especially important now, as the biotechnology industry pushes ahead with genetically engineered crops and animals at break-neck speed. Ottawa will soon consider GE fish for commercialization. AquaBounty has announced its plans to submit an application for the commercial release of their "AquAdvantage" salmon in the near future. The company is developing salmon genetically engineered with a growth hormone to induce rapid growth traits. AquaBounty's fish farming facilities are based in PEI.
"Knowing that Ottawa has never turned down an application for the commercial release of a GE product, we'd be fools to wait on Ottawa to stop this GE fish nightmare," says Broderick. "A ban on all GE products is our only guarantee against GE salmon."
Islanders are joining a growing number of people around the world who, disillusioned by non-responsive governments, are working to protect their communities against the spread of GE products. The movement is gaining momentum, with communities in the United States, Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia and Africa having already declared themselves "GE-free zones."
"We've seen this happen all over Canada with communities banning smoking in public places and the cosmetic use of pesticides. GE foods deserve the same fate," says Adam.
For further information: Laura Sewell, Media Officer, Council of Canadians: 613 233-4487 ext 234, 613 795-8685 (cell), [email protected]; www.canadians.org
2.Genetically engineered food ban proposed: Idea sparks divergent viewpoints
by Sarah Berkley (shortened)
Sonoma Index-Tribune (USA), 14 January 2005
Riding on the coattails of similar bans in Mendocino and other counties, a proposal to outlaw the growth of genetically modified organisms in Sonoma County is gaining momentum.
Proponents say the prohibition is needed to protect the natural environment and Sonoma County's agricultural heritage. However, some people working in agriculture worry that the ban could actually prevent environmentally friendly methods that eliminate the need for chemical pesticides or herbicides. And at least one biotechnology expert says there is no scientific support for the idea that genetically modified plants are a threat.
According to the text of the proposed ordinance or initiative, the ruling would affect "transgenic" or "genetically engineered" (GE) organisms - those whose DNA has been modified by transgenic manipulation. If put into effect, the county law would put a 10-year moratorium on growing any kind of genetically modified food, animal, fish or crop.
Purchasing, selling or distributing items with genetically modified ingredients would be exempt. For example, growing genetically altered
tomatoes in Sonoma County would be banned, but grocery stores could sell genetically altered tomatoes that were grown somewhere else.
GE-Free Sonoma County - a group of environmentalists, community members and organic farmers - collected more than 45,000 signatures for the proposed ballot measure. To get on the ballot, at least 29,000 of those signatures need to be verified by Feb. 16 as belonging to registered voters.
A special election for the measure, which might happen later this year, would cost the county $500,000, according to news sources.
As an alternative option to an election, the county's board of supervisors could adopt the initiative as an ordinance.
Drafters of the proposal state that such a measure protects the welfare of "our agricultural heritage, our natural environment, our public health, and our inalienable constitutional rights..." according to the original text, available at www.gefreesonoma.org.
The state does not provide any kind of regulatory structure to monitor genetically modified crops - or their impacts. Many believe that the seed stock of such crops, carried by wind or birds, could contaminate neighboring farms or the local ecosystem, or that genetically altered fish in fish breeding farms could escape into the wild and manipulate native species.
Right now, the proposal points out that only four transgenic crops have been commercialized on a large scale - soy, cotton, canola and corn. But over the next few years "there will be dozens of fruits, vegetables, nuts, ornamental and other transgenic crops approved ... Many of these new transgenic varieties will be in crops which are grown in Sonoma County," according to the proposal text.
"A decision to release transgenic organisms into our farms and ecosystems cannot be a decision made by just a few private biotechnology corporations - but must be a public decision, decided after rigorous, public scientific review and extensive public debate."
The idea is that the 10-year ban will allow for this study and deliberation; the current proposal is also said to be more of a compromise between farming and environmental camps.
Sonoma Ecology Center Executive Director Richard Dale said that center staff members are "seriously interested" in exploring the issue and are currently in the information-gathering stage. He said the center did not have an official stance on the proposal, at least not yet.
Back to the Archive