September 13, 2013 - 8:31 AM
VERNON - A biotechnology spokesperson speaking to a regional district committee drew over 150 protesters against genetically modified crops Wednesday night.
They all packed into a small Agricultural Advisory Committee meeting to hear Janice Tranberg of Croplife, an international federation of agricultural biotechnology companies including Monsanto. She was addressing the committee ahead of a vote by the North Okanagan Regional District to come out against genetically modified food.
Anti-GMO groups have been writing letters and appearing before the regional district for months, asking that they publicly adopt an anti-GMO stance. The agricultural committee has been tasked with forming a recommendation for the board of directors on what should be done. Committee member and Coldstream councillor Maria Besso says she needed to hear the other side, but wasn't impressed with what she heard.
"My impression of the presentation was that it was not at all to the calibre of what I expected in terms of scientific information," Besso says. "It was more a propaganda type presentation."
While the regional district doesn't have the power to ban GMO crops, Besso says making a public statement against them could go a long way.
"There will come a point when public pressure will force higher levels of government to respond," she says.
She says the role of the committee is to weigh both sides of every debate, and make a decision that's in the best interest of the community.
Former Green Party candidate Huguette Allen—a member of Bee Safe, a group opposed to GMO—was not impressed with the presentation, or the regional district's pace in announcing their position on the matter. She says the goal is to get public support from the district—not binding bylaws or bans.
"People are really fed up with the regional district delaying their decision," Allen says.
It has been six months since the topic was first brought to the regional district, and Allen wants to see the district take a stand by supporting non-GMO.
"We've done out duty, written letters, gone to meetings, made presentations. What more can people do?" she says. "It's up to NORD (North Okanagan Regional District) to have some courage and do their duty."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013