By Erin Hitchcock, Organizer —
An upcoming march in Williams Lake will be held to raise awareness about genetically modified foods and to call on the federal government to require them to be labelled.
March Against Monsanto aims to inform the public, calling into question long-term health risks of genetically modified foods (commonly called GMOs) and demanding such products be labelled so consumers can make informed decisions.
Everyone should be concerned about GMOs—organisms that have had their DNA artificially altered.
By taking part in the march, participants will help protect our food supply and the environment, promote organic solutions, support local farms, and help bring corporate and government accountability to this critical issue that affects us all.
Numerous countries have GMO labelling or even bans in place, but Canada, the US, and Mexico are among those that don’t.
Monsanto owns the majority of GMO seeds around the world. Other top GMO corporations include BASF, Bayer, DuPont, Dow Chemical Company, and Syngenta.
A statement signed by 300 scientists in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Sciences Europe, said there is no consensus that GMOs are safe: “We feel compelled to issue this statement because the claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist.”
According to the Dietitians of Canada, since 1994, more than 80 GM foods have been approved in Canada, including canola, corn, lentils, potatoes, rice, soybeans, squash, tomatoes, and wheat.
In February, the US government approved a GMO non-browning apple. Though sold by a Summerland, BC company, the “Arctic Apple” hasn’t yet received approval in Canada.
According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, numerous health risks may be associated with GM foods, including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen, and gastrointestinal system, among others.
Most GMOs are specifically engineered to either produce their own insecticide or to resist herbicides.
Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Round-Up, not only has serious human health concerns, but it may also be contributing to colony collapse disorder (CCD) in bees, according to Dr. Don Huber, emeritus professor of plant pathology at Purdue University, in a recent paper.
Syngenta and Bayer’s neonicotinoid-treated corn may also be playing a role in CCD. As a result, the Ontario government plans to restrict the use of neonicotinoids—a type of synthetic pesticide and neurotoxin used on nearly all corn crops.
GMOs are also believed to be having dismal effects on farmers across the globe, in part because companies such as Monsanto – creator of Agent Orange and DDT – hold the patents to the seeds they engineer. In other words, farmers are not allowed to save patented seeds to plant the following year without paying a fee, even if their crops are inadvertently contaminated due to the seeds being carried there by the wind. Monsanto has successfully sued farmers for this accidental patent infringement.
The Williams Lake Food Policy Council and its partners have been doing tremendous work promoting and supporting local food and farmers. It’s hoped the march will contribute to their efforts to increase access to local food and support sustainable and healthy farming practices.
The best ways to avoid GMOs are to buy organic, support local organic farms, and to look for the Non-GMO Project Verified symbol on packaged food.
You can also help make a difference by attending Williams Lake’s March Against Monsanto, which starts from Cariboo Growers at 313 Oliver St. at noon on Saturday, May 23. Placards and costumes are welcome.
For more information and updates on the local march, including details of a possible pre-march film screening,