August 07, 2013 - 3:06 PM
NORTH OKANAGAN - In response to a community outcry calling for a ban on genetically engineered food being grown in the area, the North Okanagan Regional District is proposing a bylaw encouraging the cultivation of non-GMO crops, but not prohibiting them.
At an electoral area advisory committee meeting Thursday, directors will discuss a bylaw regarding Genetically Modified Organisms. The bylaw would be incorporated into the Official Community Plans of Electoral areas "E" and "D", which include Cherryville, Trinity Valley and Creighton Valley.
Regional growth strategy coordinator Anthony Kittel says it's a first step in the process and there are no guarantees directors will approve the bylaw for a first reading. The proposed bylaw was drafted in response to concerns brought forward by community members.
"This is based upon the activities and decisions that have occurred with the Bee SAFE initiative," Kittel says. "The community is always taken into consideration (with the Official Community Plan)."
He says the bylaw "reflects the wishes of the community regarding Genetically Modified Organisms," however a staff report makes it clear the regional district is powerless in banning GMO crops. The regional district says the bylaw would support "broad community objectives" where they encourage others to take actions to further the objectives of the community plan.
According to the regional district, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada share authority over the regulation of agricultural practices, and municipal and regional governments "cannot enforce restrictions that limit farmers from farming under normal farm practices."
If the amendment is approved for a first reading, Kittel says various agencies, including First Nations and the Ministry of Agriculture would be consulted. There would also be opportunities for public input before a finalized version of the bylaw is fully endorsed.
Proposed Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 2603 (Genetically Modified Organisms)
4.2.19: Support local agriculture through favourable consideration of proposals that enhance local agriculture through the strengthening of beneficial agricultural practices, support of local food systems, and the expansion of local markets and agri-tourism. The community supports sustainable, non-genetically engineered (GE), traditional and organic agricultural practices in Electoral Areas "D' and "E".
4.2.20: The residents of Electoral Area "E" (Cherryville) do not support the introduction, use, cultivation or propagation of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and encourage Electoral Area "E" agricultural producers to adopt a GE free policy for locally grown agricultural products.
4.2.21: The RDNO encourages senior governments to require the labeling of genetically-engineered organisms intended for human consumption.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013