(Copyright (c) 2008 Black Press Group Ltd.)
Despite ferocious winds and power outages, approximately 240 people attended Percy Schmeiser's presentation at the Brilliant Cultural centre on Thursday, July 10.
"It was amazing to see the amount of people in light of the power failures through out the region," said event facilitator Jon Steinman.
Corky Evans, Nelson-Creston MLA and Genetically Engineered Free B.C. spokesperson Andy Morel also spoke at the presentation.
Steinman said the purpose of the event was to encourage residents to take action to ensure such genetically grown crops are not produced in our regional food shed.
"Most importantly, the campaign will ensure that viable alternatives are available to farmers currently growing genetically engineered crops," he added.
Schmeiser's presentation centred around his new battle, which he won out of court, against the multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto.
In March 2008, Schmeiser and Monsanto reached a settlement for $660 to be paid to Schmeiser for cleaning up the genetically engineered seeds from his farm.
The two parties went to court a second time because when Schmeiser asked Monsanto to take all their seeds out of his farm, Monsanto agreed, but only if Schmeiser signed two clauses.
Schmeiser didn't want to sign these clauses because it appeared to him that one asked him not to share the cleaning-up story with anyone. The second clause also appeared odd to Schmeiser.
It appeared as though he or any future owner of the farm could ever take Monsanto to court ever. The clause was not signed and the ensuing court battle began leading to his out-of-court settlement.
While the sum was small, the message was powerful, and Schmeiser has since been touring and sharing his story.
Schmeiser is most famous for his long court battle, which he lost, with Monsanto over genetically engineered Canola seeds. Monsanto accused Schmeiser of knowingly planting their Roundup-ready brand of Canola without having purchased the seed. Schmeiser insisted that if the planted seeds were indeed the property of Monsanto, then the seeds must have inadvertently landed on his field through cross-contamination.
Following years of legal battles, in 2004 the Supreme Court of Canada finally ruled 5-4 in favour of Monsanto.
The presentation was sponsored by the Kootenay Food Strategy Society, Deconstructing Dinner, West Kootenay EcoSociety, Wildsight, Kootenay Country Store Co-operative, Greenpeace, Society for a Genetically Engineered Free B.C., Mountain equipment Co-op, Genetically Engineered Free Solutions, Kootenay Co-op Radio and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.