February 13th, 2013
Cherryville to decide on GMO crops.
CHERRYVILLE – More than a hundred people showed up at the Cherryville hall last night to get information and decide whether they want to pass a resolution banning GMO crops, as has been done in 10 other BC municipalities. The evening was organized by Carla Vierke, co-founder of Bee SAFE Monashees, a local volunteer organization started a year ago by Vierke, Jane Emlyn and Huguette Allen.
“Cherryville has a history of taking charge of its environment” said Vierke. “Years ago residents started ICARE (Informing Cherryville Area Residents about the Environment) and from that came Cherry Ridge Management that created the Community Forest in this small community. We successfully stopped a proposed development that would have discharged treated sewage effluent at the headwaters of the Shuswap even though it had been approved by MoE, and now we have our own Water Stewards. Now it’s up to us whether we let GMO contaminate our crops, or stop it so we can keep control of our seeds and crops.”
After a presentation showing what happens to communities when GMO crops contaminate plants of the same family, Allen said “having GMO crops in the community is equivalent to having a urinating area in a swimming pool!” Vierke explained “pollen travels and once it cross-pollinates other plants, there is no science to bring it back. In Germany they passed a law allowing farmers to sue GMO farmers that contaminate their crops – that’s why they don’t grow GMO there. In Canada, it’s the farmer who suffers the contamination who is sued by the corporations.”
The main concern expressed was whether or not passing this resolution would have enough teeth, but the fact that Crop Life Canada strongly opposed it when Richmond council passed it, shows it makes a difference. As well, once a resolution is passed, it is sent to every related level of government as well as to seed corporations. “The resolution to ban GMO crops sends a clear message to all farmers and gives us the tool we need to not tolerate these crops” said Allen.
Although RDNO has now established an Agricultural Advisory Committee, Vierke encouraged residents to take their own decision instead of waiting years for a committee to come to a decision. “We are vulnerable now and need to protect ourselves against GMO crops before GM alfalfa & wheat are grown.” Allen added “there is a role for the committee to play once a community decides to go GMO Free – they could develop a transition plan to help GMO farmers transition to non GMO crops.”
Vierke reminded everyone that Cherryville’s freedom to grow their own food and own their own seeds depends on voting for this resolution to be passed. Residents now have until the end of February to cast their ballot, either at Frank’s store or the Cherryville Emporium.