City urged to go GE Free


The Genetically Engineered Free Kootenays Society proposed to Castlegar city council to pass a resolution to make Castlegar a genetically engineered-food free zone.


The presenters, Kim Charlesworth and Jon Steinman, explained to council a vast majority of genetically engineered (G.E) crops currently commercialized are designed to be resistant to an herbicide which is also developed by the same company who developed the seed.


"A farmer signs a contract with a company to purchase their seed and in order for the seed to be effective, they are also required to purchase a chemical herbicide produced by the same company. It is this intensive use of off-farm inputs that has, among other reasons, driven the cost of farming so high that farming has become such a difficult business to be in today," said Charlesworth.

She added the GE Free Kootenays campaign is not aiming to eliminate the presence of GE ingredients on grocery store shelves, but simply to remain free of plants and trees that are genetically modified.


"The GE Free Kootenays campaign is therefore calling on municipal and regional governments to pass a resolution that sends a message to people within and outside the region that GE plants and trees are not welcome," Charlesworth said.

Council tabled the motion until further notice as they did not feel they knew enough about the issue to make a conscious decision.


"What about the farmer who chooses to grow GE modified canola? Doesn't he have choice?" asked councillor Russ Hearne.


Steinman responded by saying the campaign is farmer friendly and the first step of the campaign is to bring farmers alternatives so they can make money off the land.


Councillor Gordon Turner wondered how a GE free zone could be enforced.

Charlesworth explained to Turner the campaign was not asking for a bylaw, but simply for a resolution, which is not a bylaw or is not legally binding.

Councillor Deb McIntosh said although the presenters had given a lot of information, she could not support the motion because she did not know enough about the issue.


No date was set for when the issue would pop-up on the agenda again.