Maybe it has something to do with living on an island, and the mindful pursuit of all things healthy. So maybe we should not be surprised that when GE Free BC asked individual candidates standing for municipal elections in BC for their positions on GE crops, as well as herbicide and pesticide use, there was an impressive response from the candidates running for election to the Islands Trust Council. For those not yet familiar with this governance, the Islands Trust is a unique federation of local governments created 40 years ago serving islands in the Salish Sea, across an expanse of over 5,000 square km of land and water!
Here’s a sample of what we heard from the Islands Trust candidates.
From Chris Bowers (Gabriola): “We should avoid GE crops at the very least because of the precautionary principle, and at most because they appear to come with a range of issues from requiring farming practices that do harm to the soil and other living things, to questions about whether they are less nutritious and possibly dangerous.”
From Christine Grimes (Salt Spring): “I would love to see Salt Spring declared as a GE and neonicotinoid free zone! This summer I spent some time talking with bee keepers and the nature conservancy and was shocked at how dire the situation for pollinators is. It is not acceptable to be using chemicals that threaten the life of important ecosystems of which pollinators are a key element.”
From Melanie Mamoser (Gabriola): “I do not support the cultivation of genetically engineered crops because genetically engineered crops breed super weeds resulting in an increase use of herbicide over the long term. Genetically engineered crops are difficult to contain, risking spread to none genetically engineered crops. Genetically engineered crops reduce diversity and therefore natural resilience in agricultural systems. I believe that food security requires promoting local food production at a smaller community scale which is possible without any genetically engineered crops as seen in my own community of Gabriola.”
From George Grams (Salt Spring): “In my view, GMOs are damaging and should be outlawed. Reasons: they are damaging to health; they do not promote increased production; patenting seeds opens the door to political and economic abuse of seed stock and so breaches our fundamental right to maintain control over our food sources. Fighting for [public] awareness can best be achieved through labelling to allow GMOs to be clearly identified in the stores. Labelling was the most effective instrument to change in Europe. Once labeled, people exercised their right not to buy GMOs and so those products containing them were frozen out of the marketplace by the consumer. Banning neonicotinoids is urgently needed, followed by vigorous prosecution and severe penalties for those who defy the ban.”
From Derek Masselink (North Pender): “I absolutely support the idea of the Southern Gulf Islands being GE free and preferably organic, eliminating the use of harmful herbicides and pesticides.”
From Peter Grove (Salt Spring): “The Islands Trust is opposed to all forms of genetically modified foods and supports sustainable local farm practices, which GM is not, in the long run. I support the Islands Trust position. The Islands Trust will continue to advocate for proper food labelling which has proved to be successful in Europe in reducing the amount of GM food produced.”
From Gary Steeves (North Pender): “I am opposed to genetically engineered crops and I am opposed to the use of herbicides and pesticides. I would advocate for and support provincial legislation to outlaw pesticide and herbicide use.”
From Perri Gorrara (Denman): “I am against GMOs, all genetically engineered crops, herbicides, pesticides and neonicotinoids.”
From Peter Johnston (Lasqueti): “I do not believe that genetically engineered crops should be grown anywhere in the open. They have not been assessed for safety, only assumed to be safe because they are substantially the same as ordinary crops of their type. At the same time, they are significantly different enough to be owned by their developers, who are mostly chemical companies who produce the GM crops so that more pesticides can be used on them than on non-GM crops, because they can resist the pesticides. Only exception is BT-producing GE crops, who produce the pesticide themselves, in every cell of the crop. I will continue to speak out against planting of GE crops, and advocate that people buy only crops that they know are non-GMO, preferably Certified Organic crops, because they are much safer for all sorts of reasons. I will continue to argue that GE crops and products should be labelled, so that consumers can have a choice about whether or not to purchase and consume them.”
And, last but not least, from Sandy Pottle and Dave Ages (Galiano): “We are opposed to the use of GE crops generally, but particularly in our small Island community. The Official Community Plan for Galiano, amended about 5 years ago, included the following. Farm operators shall be encouraged to:
- avoid the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other noxious chemicals,
- ensure production methods maintain soil quality and minimize erosion,
- ensure surface and groundwater recharge areas are not contaminated by agricultural activities,
- collect and store rainwater for irrigation purposes, and
- avoid the use or introduction of genetically modified organisms.”
This Galiano Island policy seems to us at GE Free BC to be wise advice applicable to agriculture across BC.