“Say no to GMO!” This was one of many chants that echoed throughout downtown Vancouver on Saturday, Oct. 12.
Roughly 450 people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery to “March Against Monsanto,” an American-based agriculture company that produces genetically engineered seeds.
“Ideally we would like to see genetically-modified foods labelled,” said Lili Dion, organizer of the Vancouver march. “It’s not required whatsoever to have GMO foods labelled, and yet you have to include pure water on the ingredient label. It just doesn’t make sense.”
What are GMOs?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are created by combining genetic traits from different plant and animal species to create a desired result.
When GMO tests have been done on lab rats, they exhibited decreased size, increased size of tumours and disfigured sexual organs, said Dion. “Within three generations there’s full sterility, cancer, digestive problems . . . if it’s happening to the lab rats . . . it’s happening to us to a certain extent.”
Heather Quick, an attendant of the march, said the diseases associated with GMOs are getting too prevalent. “We need our health back. We need to fight for our rights.”
Lack of labelling is cause for concern
In some cases, genetically modified foods have enhanced nutritional attributes, said Janet LePatourel, Langara nutrition and food services instructor. Golden rice, for example, was bred to be higher in B-carotene, a source of vitamin A.
“Concerns [with GMOs] are potentially creating allergens where there were none before. Consumers should have the right to know what is in their food.” said LePatourel. “Lack of labelling is a significant concern. The corporations who have the patents on GMO processes have too much power.”
Labelling is okay but it still allows companies to use GMOs, said Quick. “We need to ban it completely and so that we can get back to organic and start eating healthy food.”
If people want to avoid genetically modified foods, the easiest thing they can do is read labels, said Dion. “Anything that has corn, soy or canola is more often than not genetically modified.”
Former NDP MLA Harold Steves, current Richmond city councillor and vice-chair of planning and agriculture in Metro Vancouver.
“We’re here today to send a message to Monsanto. We don’t want your GMO seeds. We want our food labelled. We want to know what’s GMO!”
Reported by Andrea Anthony