What municipal politicians think about GE: Nanaimo and Oceanside

Candidate positions in Nanaimo and Oceanside Alec McPherson, incumbent candidate for council in Area A of the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), with his background in science, brings strong knowledge to his GE positions:Genetically engineered field crops cannot be controlled. They disperse their pollen (male genetic contribution) via wind, insects, birds, to neighbouring farms. GMO field crops like corn pollute the pure strains. Mexico has banned GM corn but farmers are still finding GM infiltration. GM plants have been developed to withstand the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) but many areas in North America are finding weed resistance and the emergence of superweeds. New developments to combat superweeds combine genes resistant to glyphosate and 2,4-D. The long term safety of glyphosate and 2,4-D has not been firmly established. GM plants engineered with the bacterial Bt gene to combat the corn borer kill many useful insects and have given rise to corn borer resistance. The control of farmers by a few seed companies is increasing. Farmers opting for GM production must buy their seed from the corporation each year and cannot save any harvested seed for next year’s planting. Neonicotinoids, which are used on non-GM plants as well, are extremely toxic to insects, but also to birds and mammals to a lesser degree. They are nerve poisons. Neonics have come under scrutiny and have been banned in parts of Europe. The honey bee hive collapse has been linked to this insecticide. GM corporations Syngenta and Bayer are the biggest suppliers of this lethal family.” Qualicum Beach council candidate Barry Avis echoes the concern about corporate dominance: “I do not support the cultivation of genetically modified crops. Large corporations will be in charge of all our food production, small scale farmers will suffer and the quality of our food will be suspect.” As does incumbent Lantzville candidate Andrew Mostad: “I would much rather the cultivation of genetically engineered food crops be curtailed for several reasons. Their increased cultivation encourages multinational corporations to patent genetic codes. There is not enough data on the health impacts of ingesting these crops, and the data that is there shows some major health consequences to eating this food. As well, it opens up non-GMO farmers to severe liabilities if there is cross contamination with a neighbour’s field who is using GMO crops.” In Area F of the RDN, candidate Rick Ethier is committed to expanding this rural community’s deployment of “farm to the fork” projects on sustainable family farms, the very antithesis of industrial GMO monoculture. In Area E of the RDN, candidate Gordon Wiebe subscribes to the position articulated by the David Suzuki Foundation: “The safety of GMO foods is unproven and a growing body of research connects these foods with health concerns and environmental damage. For this reason, most developed nations have policies requiring mandatory labeling of GMO foods at the very least, and some have issued bans on GMO food production and imports. In Canada we do not.” Agreeing with this David Suzuki Foundation position, Qualicum Beach council candidate Anne Skipsey went on to add: “I do not support the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. Having spent 5 years working in the natural foods industry, I support organic farming practices and go out of my way to find non GMO produce and products for my family.  I believe genetically modifying crops is a dangerous experiment and we should not be unknowingly exposed to these products.  The Federal Government needs to introduce requirements for any GMO products to be labelled as such so that as citizens we can make informed purchasing decisions.” Qualicum Beach incumbent mayoralty candidate Teunis Westbroek is one of the many progressive voices across the province who are prepared to “lobby the Provincial Government to legislate the prohibition of importing, exporting and growing plants and seeds containing genetically engineered DNA and raising GE animals.” Qualicum Beach council candidate Neil Horner: “Let’s start with the neonicotinoid issue. From what I can tell, these substances are one of the main culprits behind the precipitous drop in the bee population. This being the case, I suggest a rapid response is needed to restrict these substances to the limit of the Town’s authority.” Several council candidates in nearby Parksville provided their GE positions:

  • Heidi Abbott: “I think the use of genetically engineered crops is not in the best interest of our local food security.  There hasn’t been enough science to prove that they are not harmful to humans, animals, insects and other non-GE and organic crops while there has been indications that they do create harm in some instances.  I am worried that if we don’t stop now it may be too late to reverse negative effects and we may not even know what those negatives are yet.”
  • Incumbent Sue Powell: “I am against cultivation of genetically modified crops because I don’t like the way that science is used to introduce something into crops that were already providing healthy choices to the public.”
  • Caroline Waters: “I am not a supporter of the monopolization and modification of seeds for the purpose of profit and control of the marketplace. I am a big supporter of our local farms, and the organic growers of BC.”
  • Paul Reitsma: “Any time we meddle and try to artificially modify/create new species, consequences and long term effects are unknown. Labelling should be done to tell the public if any GE has been used / introduced to products.”

From Nanaimo, the largest urban centre in the region, with its 10 candidates for mayor and 26 candidates for Council, we heard lots:

  • Kevin Cantelon: “I find the growth of GMO’s to be an alarming trend in our society which has yet to receive the attention it deserves.”
  • Stephen Cochrane: “Cultivation of genetically modified food should stop and we should get back to producing more food locally that would encourage people to support each other to be healthier.”
  • Gail Adrienne: “I am very wary of humankind dabbling in genetics.  It’s scary. Where does it stop?  And there is also the seed monopoly by Monsanto and a few others.  I am so glad to see the seed-saver movement really taking off.”
  • Ian Thorpe: “I am adamantly against cultivation of genetically engineered crops and/or genetically modified foods.  I believe that this practice is not ethical.  Tampering with our natural food sources can only cause us harm now and in the future. I will continue to strongly support local farmers and the growing of organic and sustainable foods.”
  • Gordon Fuller: “Totally opposed [to cultivation of GE crops] as we do not know what harm they could ultimately cause.”
  • Wendy Pratt: “I am not in favor of GE crops – especially in an area like ours where there are so many agricultural opportunities and the availability of fresh produce through the growing season.”  
  • Jim Goldsack: “I have concerns regarding the genetic engineering of plants and animals and therefore do not agree with the practice. The Federal government has not done proper tests to establish the long term effects and yet they have accepted these products for market. A further concern is the non labeling of these products Canada wide.”
  • Paul Gogo: “I think that genetically engineered crops are topping the list of threats to the human race.”
  • Fred Pattje: “I have real concerns for those farmers involved in growing organic foods, concerns about the effects [of GE crops] on the ecosystem, and concerns for human health.”
  • Karen Hovestad: “I am opposed to the cultivation of GMO crops. Historically, human interference in natural systems has perpetually created unexpected and unintended consequences. GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.” 
  • And, last word to mayoralty candidate Jim Routledge: “I believe Europe has taken a good approach to GMOs: let there be proof first that they do no harm before introducing them into the environment. Some long-term testing has been done, a threshold is being defined. North America’s approach seems to be to deal with issues if/when issues arise. I say better right than rushed. GE crops can produce unforeseen events and greater use of pesticides.”

3 responses to “What municipal politicians think about GE: Nanaimo and Oceanside

  1. Great!


  2. Posted on GE Free Nanaimo facebook page.


  3. How many of these people get
    elected this year?

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