Municipal candidates views on GE from Port Moody

Port Moody 2014 candidates speak out about GE crops in responses to two questions (responses in no particular order):

  1. What is your position on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops, and why?
  2. What are you prepared to do to increase public awareness about genetically engineered crops, as well as herbicide and pesticide use, including neonicotinoids?

Rick Glumac: 1. I’m not in favour of cultivation of genetically engineering crops. I prefer organic foods because I know what I’m eating. Genetic engineering is circumventing the natural process of evolution and can introduce unforeseen issues into the ecosystem.

  1. In Port Moody we have banned the use of pesticides. We don’t have any farming in Port Moody but I do serve on several regional organizations where resolutions are introduced and directed to higher levels of government. I am 2nd Vice President of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association and Vancouver Metro Area Representative at the Union of BC Municipalities. Through these organizations I certainly will support resolutions related to raising public awareness of issues related genetically modified foods.

Meghan Lahti: 1. Modified plants or animals may have genetic changes that are unexpected and harmful.

  1. Modified organisms may interbreed with natural organisms and out-compete them, leading to extinction of the original organism or to other unpredictable environmental effects.
  2. Plants may be less resistant to some pests and more susceptible to others.

As a member of Port Moody Council, I spearheaded banning pesticides in Port Moody. Although this is a Federal jurisdiction, local government can play a part in educating their citizens regarding how to know and identify what foods may be genetically modified. I believe that we all play a part by buying organic, growing organic and purchasing local.

Robert Vagramov: Thanks for the questions, this is an issue that I’m quite passionate about. It’s a shame that in our technologically advanced and wealthy western society that prides itself on being a culture of choice (where you can find almost anything, including food that has been certified not to have come in contact with peanuts or wheat) it’s a challenge to find food that (a) hasn’t had its genetic code tampered with, and (b) hasn’t come in contact with chemicals similar to Agent Orange.

  1. I think there has been a dangerous culture of blind acceptance towards genetically engineered crops. “It looks like a tomato, so it must be a tomato, so we’ll regulate it like a tomato” seems to be the mantra that has taken root since the 70s when all this began. I believe in an open and free society, so the rights of Monsanto shouldn’t trump our rights, and visa versa. A farmer should be free to grow the crops they choose, whether GM or not. Seeds and genes should not be patentable. GM crop production should be regulated enough to prevent the GM seeds from escaping into the wild. GM foods, as well as food products containing GMOs should be labeled, as knowing what is in your food is a basic human right.
  2. Advertising campaigns is the only way to get the message out there. The message should be succinct and clear: a tomato is not a tomato and you wouldn’t spray yourself with this. Changing one letter in a genetic sequence of a few thousand letters results in an entirely different organism being created. While we know that splicing a certain string from bacteria into a tomato can result in a “Roundup Resistant” trait from emerging in the new organism, we do not know what other effects this can have on the new organism. Call it by its patent number, but do not call it a tomato.

Gaetan Royer: 1. GMO cultivation should be curbed. Efforts should be made to re-introduce heritage varieties of various seeds and plants to foster diversity and multi-culture. GMO labelling is a must to make sure people are making choices based on regulated labels that are free of advertising spin.

  1. I am prepared to lobby other Mayors in the region, Metro Vancouver and UBCM. When I was City Manager, I had lobbied the provincial government to pass a province-wide ban of cosmetic pesticides.

During my time as City Manager, Port Moody was the first city in Canada to adopt a pesticide ban (second in Canada). Hudson, Quebec won the court battle that established the right of a city to protect its residents against spraying and other forms of pesticide application. Neonicotinoids fall under the same ban.

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