Rossland Joins the Growing List of G.E. Free Communities
On May 11, 2009, the City of Rossland, British Columbia took leadership on a controversial food and agricultural issue. Through the efforts of the regional G.E. Free Kootenays campaign, a sub-group of the Kootenay Food Strategy Society, Rossland’s council voted in favor of a resolution to oppose the cultivation of genetically engineered plants and trees.
Sometimes referred to as GMOs (genetically modified organisms), G.E. foods have steadily increased their presence in North America’s food supply since they were introduced in the mid-90s. The move by local governments to address the issue signals that concerns with G.E. foods may be increasing.
Those concerns include human and environmental health, inadequate regulating by health and food authorities, uncontrollable contamination between crops, farmer independence and community food sovereignty.
While the move does not set into force any bylaw on cultivation nor any restrictions for grocery stores or restaurants, the decision does confirm a political position that locally grown foods will be protected from any introduction of genetically engineered plants and trees.
While G.E. seeds and trees are not yet available to the backyard gardener, G.E. Free Kootenays will be providing businesses who distribute seeds and trees within G.E. Free municipalities with a resource to inform them of what the resolution states and which seed companies in particular do not support the possible introduction of G.E. seeds for home garden use.
“This decision helps our campaign move forward as we will now look to bring other local governments on board,” says G.E. Free Kootenays’ Rossland representative Andy Morel.
In November 2008, the City of Nelson became the first district within the Kootenay region to join in the G.E. Free Kootenays campaign followed by the Village of Kaslo in January 2009.The campaign has its eyes set on encouraging other local governments in the Kootenay region of the province to follow the lead of these three communities.
G.E. Free Kootenays is only one of a number of initiatives across Western Canada seeking to create G.E. Free regions. The Society for a G.E. Free B.C. and G.E. Free Yukon are both working hard to see similar resolutions passed.
The Regional District of Powell River, B.C., became the first G.E.-Free zone in the country in 2004, followed by Saltspring Island, B.C. in the same year.