MAYOR MUSSATTO and GMO’s
With respect and congratulations to Mayor Mussatto and the council of North Vancouver City for planning to pass a by-law banning the sale of genetically engineered seeds, crops, plants, vegetables, meat, fish and poultry in the city. This brings much needed attention to the subject of genetically engineered foods. However, as there aren’t likely to be any genetically engineered seeds, crops or plants in the City of North Vancouver, it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep these out.
All Genetically engineered seeds, crops and plants are held under jealously guarded patents and are grown under the auspices of large agriculture contracts or closely guarded experimental farms. There are as yet no genetically engineered meats or poultry produced for the market but a genetically engineered salmon (Frankenfish) may enter the food chain within the next year or so as it gains approval from US authorities.
In fresh produce, the Hawaiian papaya has been genetically engineered as has a non-browning apple, US zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, and of course corn. But even when a non-genetically engineered fruit or vegetable is packaged, frozen or canned, there may be GMO additives. I think we are all relatively safe from genetically engineered foods at the moment that might be sold as fresh foods as the number as yet is very low. However, for the present, none of us are safe from the tidal wave of genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s, that we confront every time we food shop.
The difference? When genetically engineered corn gets processed into corn syrup, this process signifies a modification of the corn kernels, thus while the syrup still contains the original engineering, the engineered corn becomes modified by the chemical process, thus the name…Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO’s. Our grocery stores are swamped with GMO’s. Some estimates tell us that as much as eighty per cent of all packaged food goods in our grocery stores contain GMO material, with corn syrup, corn meal, soy beans and canola oil all being high on the list.
Most of the European countries (as well as countries like Japan, South Korea) outright refuse to import genetically engineered products. The US at the moment, in the service of Monsanto, is trying to strong arm many resistant countries into accepting US genetically engineered crops. So far they are not making much progress with the resistant countries. And the “rogue” genetically engineered wheat recently found growing in a farmer’s field in Oregon many years after Monsanto experimented near there, was enough to panic the export wheat growers in both the US and Canada. If genetically engineered wheat is found to have contaminated the wheat of the US and Canada for export, the growers export business will be over.
Other countries are also being spooked by a recent report on genetically engineered crops with possible repercussions on human health. The Environmental Scientists Europe just recently published (March 1, 2013) the report of a study done by team of scientists led by Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen in France who fed rats genetically engineered corn. The results were not pretty. The rats in one generation developed organ disruptions with kidney and liver dysfunction. Second generation female rats developed genital cancers and had altered body weights.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture suggests that at least 70 percent of processed food in US supermarkets now contain genetically modified ingredients: 93 per cent of soy, 86 per cent of corn and 93 percent of cotton and canola planted in the US in 2010 were genetically engineered (this from the Healthy Life Web site). We can only assume that roughly the same holds true in Canada. We also import much packaged stuff from the US.
And remember, GMO products, even though they have been modified, that is, distilled in some chemical way and perhaps combined with non-GMO products, still contain the original genetic engineering of the original plant done by Monsanto scientists and others. Banishing genetically engineered seeds and plants from North Vancouver is a piece of cake compared to what it will take to banish GMO’s from our food chain. This will take enormous public will, perseverance, and yes, sacrifice. But it can certainly be done. And in my opinion, the first step would be a campaign to signal to the Harper government that we demand labeling. We have a constitutional right to know what is in our food.