May 29, 2012. Vancouver. – Last night, Richmond City Council (British Columbia) unanimously confirmed a decision to make the city a GE Free Zone.
Following the initial unanimous decision by the General Purposes Committee on May 24, 250 Richmond residents turned out last night to support final approval at City Council. The biotechnology industry lobby group CropLife presented in a failed effort to dissuade councilors from approving the resolution.
“Teachers, parents, farmers, high school students, and other ordinary citizens packed City Hall and spent almost 3 hours making presentations to Council,” said local agrologist Arzeena Hamir with the Richmond Food Security Society. “We’re really proud of our City Council for taking this bold decision on our behalf. We hope that other communities can take similar action to stop these unwanted and unnecessary crops.”
Richmond is a municipality of almost 200,000 people to the south of Vancouver in British Columbia and has about 200 farms.
The City of Richmond agreed to oppose the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE, also called genetically modified or GM) plants and trees in the City, making an exception for the 3 dairy farms that already grow GM corn. The resolution states, “no further GM crops, trees or plants should be grown in the City of Richmond. This also includes GM fruit trees, all GM plants and shrubbery, GM vegetables, GM commodity crops and any and all field tests for medical and experimental GM crops.” The City also agreed to send letters to all levels of government “requesting strengthened management of genetically modified plants, and including the introduction of mandatory labelling requirements, more transparent assessment procedures and enhanced communication with the public.”
“There’s no room in our communities for crops like the proposed GM apple. We need to invest in organic farming rather than risk its future from GM contamination,” said Tony Beck of the Society for a GE Free BC.
“Last night, the industry tried to dismiss people’s concerns about the safety of GM foods and crops but the public is right not to trust corporate tests that are kept secret from them and independent scientists.” said Dag Falck who presented at the meeting on behalf of Nature’s Path Foods which is headquartered in Richmond.
“Local communities are stepping up to protect BC’s environment and economy,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. “The markets for iconic and economically important BC products could soon be destroyed if genetically modified organisms like GM apples and GM salmon are introduced.”
The Richmond Food Security Society and the Society for a Genetically Free (GE) BC introduced the resolution in 2010. Richmond joins other GE free zones in British Columbia including Salt Spring Island, Denman Island, Powell River, Kaslo, Nelson, New Denver, and Rossland.
GE Free BC would like to acknowledge the great work of April Reeves on the Richmond campaign.
For more information: Arzeena Hamir, cell 604 727 9728; Dag Falck, cell 250 307 4992, Lucy Sharratt, 613 241 2267 x 25.