Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Of GM Foods and Harper's Bully-Boys

Dear Editor,

Is it now old-fashioned to expect those who govern us, to do so in a decent, respectful way? If it is, then call me old-fashioned. Even for someone painfully aware of the depths to which our democratic system has sunk, especially since the Harperites took over, I was shocked to learn about a bullying incident which played out on Parliament Hill earlier this month. 

The Commons Agriculture Committee was meeting to talk about "low-level presence." Before you doze off, it's a topic which everyone who puts food in his mouth, should care about! This government actually wants Canada to start accepting traces of genetically-modified (GM) genes in the food we import, even though those genes have neither been inspected nor approved by our own domestic regulators! A guest appearing before the committee, Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), opposed this idea. This was hardly surprising, since CBAN's very reason for being is to act as a watchdog on the implications of adopting more and more GM-altered food in our country. Her argument was, if this government gets its way, Canada will become the first country in the world to accept such imports. And, by so doing, we are not only inviting contamination of our food imports, but destroying the livelihoods of organic farmers, as well. 

Opposition members of the committee challenged Ms. Sharratt, but at least, they were respectful and let her state her case. Such was not the case when it came to Blake Richards, a gunslinging Conservative MP and committee member from Alberta. Instead of sticking to the topic, he went off on Ms. Sharratt, obsessing over the source of CBAN's funding.  In the words of a veteran journalist covering the meeting, Barry Wilson of the Western Producer, "Richards argued she represents radical American, anti-GM environmentalists, opposed to Canadian interests. The implication was, she has a hidden anti-Canadian agenda." Wilson's editorial accused the Conservative Party of Canada of a “'take no prisoners' vision: you are for me or against me" and that this "vision" was showing through at other committee meetings, not just this one. His verdict on Richard's overall conduct? "It was rude, crude and abusive." 

Meanwhile, the global trend is decidedly leaning toward the domination of Corporate, GM agribusiness, its resultant increase in the application of harmful pesticides and the decline of non-GM and organic methods. Why should we be concerned? Because parents who want nothing more than to minimize levels of pesticides in their children's bodies, are slowly but surely losing that option. And with a wild-west mentality now firmly entrenched in the psyche of the governing, GM-boosting Harperites, it seems nothing short of a concerted effort on the part of us all, to stop voting Conservative,  offers the best path to the future.

Larry Powell
Roblin, MB

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