Hundreds back council crop resolution

Supporters of a city council resolution against genetically modified crops pack council chambers. - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Supporters of a city council resolution against genetically modified crops pack council chambers.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Supporters of a council resolution banning genetically modified crops packed city hall Monday calling the practise of growing such foods "immoral" and "dangerous."

"The motivation of the companies that create this is profit, which is fine except that it's not for the benefit of the community," said Sandra Bourque, a former school trustee, one of dozens of speakers at the council meeting.

Opponents to the crops turned out by the bushel after getting wind that CropLife Canada was set to delegate to city council before its final vote.

That vote, which took place about three hours after the meeting started, was unanimous.

Last Tuesday elected officials introduced its resolution opposing the cultivation of genetically engineered plants and trees in Richmond. The resolution states that apart from three existing dairy farms growing genetically modified corn, no further such crops are welcome.

The city doesn't have enforcement powers, however, as regulation of such crops and food products is a federal responsibility.

People lined the aisles of council chambers at the regular Monday council meeting, which rarely attracts so many spectators. Some brought homemade signs, with phrases such as "I WON'T EAT GMO (genetically modified organism)" and "Food is for people not corporations."

GMO ban resolutionKaren Morton told council B.C. is relatively free from genetically engineered crops, the exception being corn. Morton, president and founder of EcoUrbia Network, called for mandatory food labelling that clearly identify genetically modified foods.

"We can refuse to increase capacity until such a time as we achieve mandatory GMO food labelling in Canada, and as a community and a region, we must refuse to allow the proliferation of GE crops in our province."

CropLife's vice-president for Western Canada, Janice Tranberg, told council labelling will just lead to higher costs for producers and consumers.

CropLife is a trade association representing the manufacturers, developers and distributors of plant science technologies, such as Monsanto.

Local agrologist Arzeena Hamir advocated for the council resolution, who also spoke Monday, wrote her arguments against genetically modified food in a Richmond Review column last month. CropLife has since fired back with a post on their website.

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