Help us make British Columbia GE Free

Join us! There are many ways you can help out:

VOLUNTEER

GE Free BC is a 100 per cent volunteer run NPO. And we need your help. If you have time, want to work with an energetic group of great humans, and are interested in helping to create a better and healthier world (especially here in BC)  then…     WE NEED YOU!

Email gefreebc07@yahoo.ca and let’s talk!

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Support a GE Free zone in Victoria

If you live in Victoria please sign the petition at the site below. If yo don’t live in Victoria please pass this one to someone who does. A GE Free zone resolution will be discussed at Victoria City Council soon.

http://www.victoriavoice.ca/ge_free_victoria

Liberals committed to evidence-based policies

Liberals committed to evidence-based policies

GE Election Graphic

In mid-September, one of our volunteers emailed a pair of questions to candidates in all 42 BC electoral districts. These are the two questions that were asked of each candidate include:

  1. If elected, will you give Health Canada the resources and the mandate to conduct a comprehensive, independent, science-based assessment on the safety of genetically engineered foods?
  2. What will you do to increase public awareness in your district of genetically engineered food and toxic pesticides, including neonicotinoids?

Previously we posted the responses and positions of the Conservatives, Greens and NDP. In today’s final blog, we bring you the positions of your Liberal Party of Canada candidates running in BC.

Dr. Hedy Fry, Liberal Party candidate in Vancouver Centre framed the problem and solution this way: “At the heart of this matter is the consumers’ right to know just what it is they are consuming. The government’s failure to recognize this right is, in my opinion, a major driving factor in the public’s distrust in GMOs. I believe that information provided to Canadians should be accurate, understandable, informative – not false or misleading – and verifiable.  … I fully support the mandatory labeling of GE/GMO foods, a position I have held since my time as a physician and Chair of the BC Medical Association Council on Health Promotion.”

Next door in Vancouver Granville, Liberal Party candidate Jody Wilson-Raybould stated that “A Liberal government will ensure that Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have the resources they need to ensure Canadians’ food is safe. All decisions we make, particularly those that affect the safety of Canadians, will be based on science and facts. We will ensure the federal government rebuilds its capacity to deliver on evidence-based decision-making.  I will work with the Liberal party and the federal government to ensure that we study all the evidence on mandatory labelling and implement the policies that evidence demands.”

On the topic of pesticides, Jessie Adcock, Liberal Party candidate in Port Moody-Coquitlam stated that “A Liberal government will continue to stringently regulate pesticides to ensure they pose minimal risk to human health and the environment… Furthermore, we will continue to work with other governments to align the processes used to regulate pest control products and ensure the protection of Canadians’ health and our environment.”

Brad Layton, Liberal Party candidate in Skeena-Bulkley Valley was the first to send the following compilation of Liberal Party positions on the subject of GMOs:

“Access to sufficient, safe, healthy, adequate food is a fundamental human right. A Liberal government will always prioritize protecting the health and safety of Canadians. We will work consultatively with provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal organizations, community groups, and producers to ensure that Canadians have access to healthy, affordable food. The CFIA must be able to depend on adequate funding by our government to sustain its programs to safeguard the health of Canadians. A Liberal government will ensure that the food you buy in the grocery store is safe.

Liberals stand for strong, evidence-based scrutiny of our food supply chain and fully agree that the government must always act to protect consumers and farmers when making these decisions. The federal government—the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in conjunction with Health Canada— is responsible for keeping Canadians safe by monitoring and reviewing our food products, as well as the policies and science that support our food safety system. Unfortunately, these departments have suffered multiple cuts under the Harper Conservatives, which undermine the government’s ability to safeguard our food supply. Of particular concern are reductions in the number of frontline food safety workers—including researchers and scientists who are tasked with evaluating food products.

We have also heard the concerns of farmers and concerned citizens about GMOs, and the effects of cross-contamination on the survival of non-GMO and organic crops must be addressed in a manner that effectively balances the needs of farmers, trading partners and consumers. Biotechnological innovation has been, and will continue to be, crucial to agricultural competitiveness and productivity. However, the growing prevalence of GMOs should not come at the expense of the viability of non-GMO and organic strains of crops. A Liberal government would place a moratorium on the approval of Roundup Ready Alfalfa until a comprehensive study is completed on its impact on non-GMO and organic strains.

The strengthening of our export markets is absolutely critical for the health of the Canadian agricultural sector, which is why we must balance innovation with the best interests of our farmers and consumers.

A Liberal government will ensure the federal government rebuilds its capacity to deliver on evidence-based decision-making. We will study all the evidence on mandatory labelling and implement the policies that the data demands.”

We at GE Free BC hope that these past 4 blogs outlining the four national party’s response to our questions about GMO’s in Canada have been helpful to any of you who expect the federal government to play a strong role in food security, health protection, and a sustainable food system.

Echoing Food Secure Canada’s slogan, we encourage you to “Eat. Think. Vote.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NDP’s pan-Canadian Food Strategy

NDP’s pan-Canadian Food Strategy

GE Election GraphicIn mid-September, one of our volunteers emailed a pair of questions to candidates in all 42 BC electoral districts. These are the two questions that were asked of each candidate include:

  1. If elected, will you give Health Canada the resources and the mandate to conduct a comprehensive, independent, science-based assessment on the safety of genetically engineered foods?
  2. What will you do to increase public awareness in your district of genetically engineered food and toxic pesticides, including neonicotinoids?

Unfortunately, the questions were emailed only to Conservative, Liberal and Green candidates because all three of these parties included on their national campaign website easily retrievable email addresses for each of their candidates. For some unfathomable reason, the NDP didn’t.

Fortunately, someone pointed us to a policy document entitled Everybody Eats, which is the NDP’s proposed pan-Canadian Food Strategy. Today’s blog will highlight components of this NDP strategy that relate to the two questions we asked the other candidates.

Here are some of the relevant features from the NDP Everybody Eats publication which can be found at http://xfer.ndp.ca/2014/food-strategy/FoodStrategy-EN-PRINT.pdf

  • Allocate resources for the assessment of new technologies used in food production.
  • Address conflicts of interest in food safety, and ensure that food safety decisions are made in the public interest.
  • Develop clear, accurate and verifiable labelling for products that have undergone genetic modification.
  • Ensure that economic costs and benefits are included as a factor in new regulatory approvals for GM seeds.
  • Protect Canada’s heritage seeds and breeds.
  • Ensure that plant varieties remain in the public domain following the expiration of plant breeders’ rights.
  • Preserve the right of farmers to save and condition seed for their own use.
  • Promote best practices to reduce input costs through more efficient, innovative and sustainable equipment and production methods.
  • Work with industry and researchers to develop and promote techniques that reduce fertilizer and pesticide load and run-off as much as possible.
  • Promote healthy soil management.
  • Monitor and protect the health of pollinators.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow, in our fourth and final blog on the federal election, we will review the responses and positions of the Liberal candidates.

Echoing Food Secure Canada’s slogan, we encourage you to “Eat. Think. Vote.”

Green Party candidates urge precaution, safety testing, and labelling of GMOs

Green Party candidates urge precaution, safety testing, and labelling of GMOs

ge election graphicIn mid-September, one of our volunteers emailed a pair of questions to candidates in all 42 Federal Electoral Districts in British Columbia (BC). Yesterday, we posted the responses (or lack thereof) received from the Conservative candidates running in BC. Today we bring you the views of your Green Party of Canada candidates running in BC.

These are the two questions that were asked of each candidate:

  1. If elected, will you give Health Canada the resources and the mandate to conduct a comprehensive, independent, science-based assessment on the safety of genetically engineered foods?
  2. What will you do to increase public awareness in your district of genetically engineered food and toxic pesticides, including neonicotinoids?

The Green Party of Canada has had a focused, unambiguous position on genetically engineered organisms (GMO) for several years. This is not a made-for-election platform. It is a one-pager worth reading: http://www.greenparty.ca/en/policy/vision-green/economy/genetic-engineering

Some key excerpts from their Vision Green:

  • “Require mandatory labelling of all GE foods and food ingredients.”
  • “Maintain the ban on GE wheat and oppose GE alfalfa.”
  • “ …be guided by the precautionary principle, which balances the economic benefits of innovation with public health and ecological integrity.”

In response to our two questions, these are a few highlighted responses from the Green Party of Canada’s candidates running in BC:

Chris George, Green Party candidate in North Okanagan-Shuswap wrote: “In addition to banning neonicotinoid pesticides, we will ensure the quality and wholesomeness of food by strengthening the monitoring of all pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth hormones, non-therapeutic antibiotics, and insecticides in food production, processing and storage, with the goal of an orderly reduction in detectable residues of these substances until they reach undetectable limits.”

Kyle Routledge, Green Party candidate in New Westminster – Burnaby is “quite concerned with the lack of regulation regarding GMOs and I feel that much more research must be conducted to determine what the potential long-term implications may be from ingesting GMO food.” This is echoed by Peter Tam, Green Party candidate in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, who “definitely wants an independent and science-based assessment of GMO and GEO and health effects.”

Robert Mellalieu, Green Party candidate in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola would “increase education in schools and through publicly funded advertising about the dangers of chemical foods and the benefits of real food.”

Richard Hosein, Green Party candidate in Fleetwood-Port Kells adds that “We must end federal subsidies to the GMO industry” and “the Green Party will protect and promote the farmer’s right to save and use non-GMO seed without penalty.”

Over on Vancouver Island, Glenn Sollitt, Green Party candidate in Courtenay-Alberni would “support the creation of designated organic agricultural areas that are GM, GE and Roundup free and are showcased as such.” Frances Litman, Green Party candidate in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke summarized the Green Party approach to Canadian agriculture policies as: “reduce the dependence on chemical inputs, rebuild and protect natural soil fertility, value quality produce and support local economies, reduce waste and increase the number of farm families.” Jo-Ann Roberts, Green Party candidate in Victoria added that “We will develop a National Agricultural and Food Policy that would improve food safety and boost nutritional health, provide food security and support local food markets, reduce corporate control of the food supply, improve agricultural research, stop the loss of agricultural land to development, support agricultural stewardship, and assist farmers in climate change adaption.”

Last words on this topic are from Elizabeth May, Green Party national leader, and candidate in Saanich-Gulf Islands who states that “we believe that local organic agriculture must play a role in mitigating climate change, providing food security, restoring soil health, improving human health, protecting water, and providing sustainable livelihoods for citizens. We must restructure our agricultural markets to sustain farming and provide farm families with a fair share of the consumer food dollar. We want to expand local small-scale agriculture and support a rapid transition to organic agriculture rather than subsidizing costly agro-chemicals, industrial food production, and genetically modified crops.”

Several Green Party responses quoted Dr. Lynne Quarmby, Green Party candidate in Burnaby North-Seymour who has said: “The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada are not protecting us from the risks of GMO crops. It is not clear to me that they could protect us, even if properly resourced and mandated. What can be done is to require mandatory labeling of all GMO foods. Canadians armed with knowledge when they shop can regain control of the food that sustains us.”

Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to stay tuned as posts over the next two days will review the NDP and Liberal positions on GE crops and foods in Canada.

Echoing Food Secure Canada’s slogan, we encourage you to “Eat. Think. Vote.”

Conservative candidates in BC refuse to answer our GE questions

Conservative candidates in BC refuse to answer our GE questions 

ge election graphic

In mid-September, one of our volunteers emailed a pair of questions to candidates in all 42 Federal Electoral Districts in British Columbia (BC). Starting today, over the next four days, we will give you a summary of what we know about the federal party policies and individual candidate views, one party per day, starting with the Conservative Party.

These are the two questions that were asked of each candidate:

  1. If elected, will you give Health Canada the resources and the mandate to conduct a comprehensive, independent, science-based assessment on the safety of genetically engineered foods?
  2. What will you do to increase public awareness in your district of genetically engineered food and toxic pesticides, including neonicotinoids?

Today’s will be a short post. Forty-two (42) emails were sent to Conservative candidates in BC. Two (2) emails were returned because of invalid email address. No response was received from any of the other 40 Conservative candidates.

Stay tuned. Other candidates have indicated that they care about the safety of what we eat and about the consequences of unregulated agricultural biotechnologies. On each of the next 3 days, we will summarize the positions of the federal Greens, New Democrats, and Liberals (the order was randomly selected).

Echoing Food Secure Canada’s slogan, we encourage you to “Eat. Think. Vote.”

BC Events on Genetically Engineered Trees, Oct 21 and 22, 2015

The Growing Threat: Genetically engineered trees and the future of our forests

growing-threat-fb-victoria-and-vancouverA speakers tour across the Pacific Northwest will now conclude with events in Vancouver and Victoria. BC on Oct 21 and Oct 22.

The events will feature international expert on the environmental risks of genetically engineered trees Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher of the group EcoNexus in the UK. Dr. Steinbrecher will be accompanied by US activists Ruddy Turnstone of the Global Justice Ecology Project and Mark Des Marets, co-founder of Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering.

Wednesday October 21, 2015. 7:00-9:00PM
Unitarian Church, 949 W 49th Ave. Vancouver, BC

Thursday October 22, 2015. 7:00-9:00PM
Room A102, David Turpin Building, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC

Genetically engineered (GE, also called genetically modified) trees threaten the biodiversity of native forests, are false solutions to the climate change crisis, and can have unpredictable and irreversible consequences. The Pacific Northwest is key as it hosts some of the leading global research on GE trees. This includes research on GE poplar trees conducted at the University of British Columbia. The first GM fruit tree in Canada – a GM non-browning apple – was also approved and planted this year. Join us to discuss the dangers of GE trees.

Events organized by the Global Justice Ecology Project, Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), the Society for a GE Free BC, and the UVic Environmental Studies Student Association.

For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, cell 613-809-1103 or coordinator@cban.ca

http://www.cban.ca/trees or nogetrees.org

See the Future of Food in Coquitlam 11th April

One of the seminal movies on GE foods.

FutureofFood-social-media