Petition Presented in Provincial Legislature
March 12. Kelowna. Today, Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South and BC NDP Agriculture Critic, presented a petition in the British Columbia Legislature with 5536 signatures representing 19 BC communities, asking the House to take urgent action to halt commercial introduction of the genetically modified (GM) apple.
Petition signatures were collected by local groups and concerned individuals from 19 communities across BC who oppose the introduction of the GM “non-browning” apple being considered for market approval in the U.S. and Canada. The small BC company Okanagan Specialty Fruits licensed the technology from Australia and approval could be granted as early as this year in the U.S. or Canada. A timeframe for approval in Canada is unknown because the review processes in Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are both completely secret.
“The petition is an expression of the overwhelmingly negative response from consumers to the idea of this GM apple,” said Wendy Wright of the Okanagan Greens Society who helped to collect signatures. The text of today’s petition says, “Contamination from GM apples threatens the future of our apples, and the farmers who grow them” and refers to a 2012 consumer survey, commissioned by the BC Fruit Growers Association, that found that 69% of Canadians don’t want the GM apple.
“We totally reject this botox apple,” said Heidi Osterman of the True Food Foundation in the Okanagan, “We see consumer revulsion to this GM apple every time we tell people about it.”
“Our provincial government has the responsibility to protect our local economies from clear market threats like this GM apple,” said Huguette Allen of the group Bee SAFE.
Carol Kergan of the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council said, “The BC government must examine the economic and social risks of this GM apple because the federal government’s regulatory process bypasses these questions. If the risks outweigh any perceived benefit, precaution is essential because GM technologies can’t be effectively recalled.”
Both Norm Letnick, BC Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country and provincial Minister of Agriculture, and Ron Cannan, federal Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, have refused recent requests to meet with local Okanagan groups on this issue. Heidi Osterman, on behalf of the groups, requested meetings in February.
The petition was collected and sent to a central location from 19 communities including Campbell River, Comox, Courtney, Delta, Kelowna, Lake Country, Langley, Penticton, Powell River, Port Coquitlam, Rosedale, Salt Spring Island, N. Saanich, Saanich, Surrey, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vernon, Victoria.
For more information: Wendy Wright, Okanagan Greens Society, 250 469 1881; Heidi Osterman, True Food Foundation, 250 878 9437; Huguette Allen, Bee SAFE, 778 473 3029; Carol Kergan, Central Okanagan Food Policy Council, 250 868 0900.