Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and his wife Louise will be in Castlegar on July 10 to speak at a G. E. Free Kootenay and Kootenay Food Strategy Society Society event.
Schmeiser fought a series of court battles versus multinational agriculture corporation Monsanto after his field was contaminated by genetically engineered Canola plants.
Today, it is said that over three quarters of foods on grocery store shelves contain G.E. ingredients. Most Canadians remain completely unaware of their presence. With the technology having not received any long-term safety studies, Canadians have become the product of one of the largest human feeding studies in history. The foods/ingredients that are most often genetically engineered are corn, soy and canola. These crops represent the foundation for most foods consumed today including soft drinks, breakfast cereals, oil-based foods, dairy, meat and eggs among others.
Among the many environmental and health concerns of G.E. foods, farmers' rights are also of great concern to people like Percy Schmeiser.
Benefiting heavily from the genetic engineering of foods are the corporations developing the seeds. Of the handful of multinational seed developers, St. Louis, Missouri's Monsanto is the world's largest. Upon patenting the seed technologies, companies like Monsanto demand that farmers who purchase their seed sign agreements that prohibit the farmer from saving their seed for the following year. Seed saving is a practice and right that has existed for millennia, and even before Schmeiser hit the media spotlight, he was one of the most well-known seed savers of Canola.
Their ongoing battles have reached such international recognition, that in December 2007, the Schmeisers became the recipients of the Right Livelihood Award; often referred to as the "alternative Nobel". The award was presented in honour of the Schmeiser's "courage in defending biodiversity and farmers' rights, and challenging the environmental and moral perversity of current interpretations of patent laws".
The event will also feature Nelson-Creston MLA Corky Evans, Deconstructing Dinner's Jon Steinman and G.E. Free Kootenay's Andy Morel.
The presentation starts at 7 p.m. on July 10 at the Brilliant Cultural Centre, 1186 Brilliant Road, in Castlegar. By donation to G. E Free Kootenay.