By Erin Hitchcock –
A couple dozen people marched through Williams Lake last month to raise awareness about pesticides and genetically modified food and how these products may harm our health, environment, and society.
While this local March for Food Justice was small, participants joined millions of people across the globe, marching in solidarity during the world-wide March Against Monsanto that took place in 388 cities, 49 countries, and six continents on May 21.
Taking place from Cariboo Growers and supported by the Williams Lake Food Policy Council and other community groups, this year’s march was named March for Food Justice locally rather than March Against Monsanto. This was to better encompass the range of issues included in the cause; though Monsanto – the maker of Agent Orange and Roundup – is one of the largest chemical agriculture giants, there are others as well, including Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, and others. In fact, Bayer has made a buyout bid for Monsanto. The merger, if it takes place, would cause the two to become the largest agricultural supplier in the world.
Marchers sported placards demanding change, whether it be a call for mandatory GMO labelling or an outright ban, or simply to raise awareness about pesticides and GMOs. They said no to poison and corruption and stood up for our food supply, our health, local and organic farmers, and our future.
Despite the hard issues being faced globally, progress is being made when it comes to chemical-free food thanks to protests such as these and to consumers demanding organic food. Whole Foods, for example, plans to have all of its GMO products labelled by 2018.
Lead organizer and founder of March Against Monsanto Tami Canal said in this year’s speech the march has seen incredible strides on a consumer level, with Chipotle being the first U.S. restaurant chain to announce moving to becoming GMO free. Brands such as General Mills, Campbell’s, Mars, and Hunt’s have also announced their intent to voluntarily label all products containing GMOs. Corporations such as Target, Kroger, and Costco have also responded to consumer demands for more organic products.
“This is because of we, the people,” Canal said. “The message we send every single time we spend a dollar is mighty and our efforts are working. We are being heard. We hold the power, because simply, if we don’t buy it, they can’t sell it.”
However, more and more GMOs and pesticides continue to be produced and sold.
According to the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, a limited amount of GM alfalfa seed has recently been sold in Eastern Canada for spring planting. However, the release of GM alfalfa has been delayed in Canada for three years. To help stop the company Forage Genetics from selling another batch of seed later this year, visit CBAN’s site at http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Crops-and-Foods-Not-on-the-Market/Alfalfa for more info and ways to take action.
Health Canada also recently approved the selling of GMO salmon – and no, it won’t be labelled as being genetically modified. See my previous column in the 2015 September/October issue of the Green Gazette for more about this issue.
Those wishing to tell the federal government to label or ban GMOs can write to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Health Canada. Their contact info can be found at www.pm.gc.ca/eng/contactpm and www.hc-sc.gc.ca/contact/index-eng.php, respectively.
Erin Hitchcock is a stay-at-home mom, journalist, anti-GMO advocate, and local organizer for March Against Monsanto/March for Food Justice. If you have any comments, column suggestions, or questions for her email firstname.lastname@example.org.