Richmond city council’s proposed ban on genetically engineered (GE) crops has caught the attention of the industry’s biggest player.
Croplife Canada – an association of agricultural biotechnology companies - is sending its vice president of Western Canada, Janice Tranberg.
Croplife confirmed Tranberg will be flying in to YVR to attend Monday night’s city hall meeting to speak on behalf of Canada’s plant science industry.
City council is expected to vote on last week’s committee motion, which councillors passed unanimously, to ban the use of GE crops on farms across the city.
Croplife’s presence Monday night is sure to add spice to the evening, following on from a significant anti-GE crop contingent stating their case at last week’s committee meeting, many of whom are expected to turn out in force once more.
Last week’s decision by city council was a step further than that recommended by city staff, who suggested lobbying senior levels of government for mandatory labelling of foods that contain ingredients from genetically engineered crops.
The ban was no doubt influenced by the swell of anti-GE crops supporters who filled city hall and spoke passionately about their fears of the genetically modified farming practice.
Richmond food security champion Arzeena Hamir was at the forefront of last week’s delegations against GE crops and she is once again expected to be at city hall on Monday.
Many of them, however, have acknowledged the fact the city has little power to enforce the ban as GE crops are federally regulated. The ban, to its supporters, is viewed more as “symbolic” and sending a message to GE crops producers.
Under the motions passed last week, Richmond is seeking stronger labelling requirements and integrate education about consumer choice and awareness of the issues raised by genetically modified organisms - known as GMOs or GE crops - into the city's public outreach programs. Because GE crops are federally regulated, Richmond is limited in its ability to enforce the ban, but proponents of the motion are delighted with the message it sends.
Only three farms in Richmond are known to be growing genetically engineered crops. Rossland, Kaslo, Nelson, Powell River and Saltspring Island have also passed motions opposing genetically modified organ-isms within their boundaries.
GE crops are created by taking genetic material from one living thing and pasting it into another, often to provide resistance to pests or chemical pesticides.
Most of the major commodity crops - maize (corn), soy, canola and cotton - grown in Canada and the U.S. are GE, and more than 80 per cent of pack-aged foods contain the products of those crops. Neither Canada nor the U.S. requires foods with GMOs to be labelled, though many European countries do.