Gurdeep Stephens instrumental in the victory
• A Nature’s Path family member (daughter of co-founders Arran and Ratana), Oak Bay resident and non-GMO world patriot, Gurdeep Stephens, recently addressed the mayor and councillors in Victoria, BC.
Gurdeep, along with several other speakers, attended a Victoria Council Session preceding a vote on GEs in the city. We are happy to report that following the presentations, Victoria council and mayors voted unanimously against GEs in the city.
Read on for her moving and informative talk about the impact and ramifications of using GEs in food:
My grandfather and great-grandfather were berry farmers on Vancouver Island. I literally grew up in the organic food industry before it was called an industry and am part of the founding family of Nature’s Path Foods where I am director of special projects. Jane Goodall said, ‘Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and shake our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?’
I lived in Europe for 14 years where GMOs are now mostly banned and all labelled except in a few cases. Indeed, there are 64 countries that label GMOs and several that ban GMOs. When I came back to Canada in 2009, I realized that, in North America, GMOs are in most cotton, corn, canola, soy and sugar, and we are eating them without any kind of knowledge, permission or labelling.
When Biotech and Big Ag talk about GE (genetic engineering or genetically modified organisms), they talk about feeding the world, decreasing pesticide use and their famous Golden rice. None of these promises have come to fruition.
Here are some of the reasons I urge Victoria to adopt the GE Free Resolution. But I would like to point out I am not talking about genetic engineering for medical purposes, such as bacteria that are spliced to produce medicines like insulin. I’m talking about the food on our plates, plus plants, trees and animals.
Six points against GMOs:
1. They are typically monocrops, which are the antithesis of biodiversity. In Vandana Shiva’s book, Soil Not Oil, she writes we have lost 90% of crop biodiversity in the last 30 years.
2. Most that are commercially available are modified – not for nutrition and not for better yield. Most are modified to express a pesticide (like BT) or resist an herbicide (like glyphosate or worse). I call these pesticides and herbicides “biocides.” The biocide class called neonicotinoids, which GMO seeds are often coated in, kill bees.
3. Last year, glyphosate – aka Round UP – was declared by the WHO as a “probable carcinogen.” I personally was one of the first Canadians to ever test for glyphosate in my body, and it was there in my urine at a relatively high level of 3.1 ppb.
4. They cross pollinate. That means they pollute non-GMOs in the fields. My dad Arran said in the 90s, “There is no wall high enough to keep out GMOs.”
5. They involve patents on life. Vandana Shiva said, “In adding some toxic genes to a seed, you are not creating life, you are polluting it.” Alarming to most people is that Canadian law favours the patent holders over the farmers whose farms have been contaminated by GMOs.
6. They are tested and declared safe by the very companies that profit from them. Our government, to date, has not done its own independent long-term safety studies.
Despite the millions Big Biotech, Big Food and Big Ag have spent to stifle GMO labelling, despite the US Dark Act that recently passed, despite the billions in subsidies and lobbying money and corporate science to convince us otherwise, the organic food industry is over 40 billion dollars in the USA and remains one of the fastest growing sectors in food.
Organics does not permit the use of genetically modified organisms. Moreover, the “Non-GMO Verified” label is the fastest growing label in the natural food industry. People want to know what they’re eating and they don’t want genetic engineering in their food. Millennials are driving change and seeking organic foods. So the future is bright and it’s organic.
In BC, there are 16 regions and 61 municipalities who have adopted a GE Free resolution.
Living in one of the most beautiful ecosystems in the world, declaring Victoria a GE free zone will send a message that we Victorians are for biodiversity. We are for bees and butterflies. That we stand up for a clean food system that will help purify our soil, water and air, not one that will slowly poison us and destroy our precious biodiversity. Respected Madam Mayor and Honourable Councillors, by declaring our city GE Free, you will bring our city one step closer to the change we want to be in this world.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Victoria places itself on record opposing the cultivation of genetically engineered crops, plants and trees in the City of Victoria in the absence of scientific testing on the long-term impacts of these crops on human and environmental health;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the City calls upon the Federal and Provincial governments to implement a regime of mandatory labelling of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for sale in BC and Canada;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the City calls upon the Federal and Provincial governments to impose a moratorium on bringing further GMOs to market for sale until a regime of independent and transparent scientific assessment and GMO management is introduced;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the City of Victoria shall forward copies of this resolution to the Premier, Prime Minister, local Members of the Legislative Assembly and Members of Parliament, and member municipalities of the Capital Region.