Tag Archives: Robyn O’Brien

GE Free Victoria passed. Unanimous.

Eloquence is the poetry of prose.

– William C Bryant

First of all, I was inspired by a quote from Robyn O’Brien. The gestalt was “Keep speaking, even when you’re trembling.”  I was trembling.

This post has been more widely shared than most of my recent posts on the Deeper Side.  A comment on Facebook just came up that made me realize that I need to expand this post with more background information to help more readers understand. So if you are familiar about the subject, please skip the rest of this paragraph.  For some background on the terminology: GE = Genetic Engineering = GMOS.  Not talking about an extension of traditional plant breeding. I’m talking about Canadian food crops that have been modified to withstand herbicides (like glyphosate) or express a pesticide (like BT). Many GMOS have both traits. Talking about food crops that are not modified for higher yield or better nutrition. No governments have done their own safety studies. GMOs contaminate non GMOs. And Canadian law favours the patent holders of the GE seeds over the farmers who have had their crops contaminated. For some background, I recommend the 2013 documentary ‘GMO OMG’. Another great resource is GMO Myths and Truths you can find online.

Now for the specifics of the Motion put forth by Councillors Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday,  There is a bunch of Wheras’s.  If you want you can look up the motion or write back at me and I’ll include them all. Generally given the lack of long-term studies both for human safety and on ecology, and following the precautionary principle the “ask ” was that the City of Victoria go on record to oppose this new technology until the requisite studies are done.  Specifically to quote from the motion:

“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Victoria hereby opposes the cultivation of genetically engineered crops, plants and trees in the City of Victoria.

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City call upon the Federal and Provincial governments to implement a regime of mandatory labelling of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for sale in BC and Canada.

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City call upon the Federal and Provincial governments to impose a moratorium on bringing further GMOs to market for sale until a regime of independent and transparent scientific assessment and GMO management is introduced.

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Victoria shall forward copies of this resolution to the Premier, Prime Minister, all local MLAs and MPs, Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and The Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM).”

Let me give you a play by play account of how tonight’s Victoria Council Session went.

I came into a mostly empty council chambers as a virtuoso pianist was serenading the room from about 6 – 6:30.  Robert Holliston.  Beautiful playing.  Set the tone? I was not expecting that – it was kind of surreal.  Actually, it was almost mystical.


I met Tony for the first time.  Love his sign and his smile. 
Then Mayor Helps and councillors came in.  I need to give props, snaps, shout-outs to Councillors Ben Isitt and Jeremey Loveday for their commitment to this important cause.

Mayor Lisa Helps (in what looked like a locally-made smoking lily dress oh ye followers of the Style-Diet) called the session precisely at 6:30 and after a few words, I was the first speaker for GE Free Victoria.  Read from my notes.  Held by my trembling hands.  Heard my voice quake and shake. But hung in there.  You can probably guess what I talked about.


Second up was Jim Jordan, a seeker of social and environmental justice.  A soft-spoken man, an organized thinker and most importantly: a do-er.  The steady driving force behind tonight.  Jim spoke about seeds and how the machines and chemicals of war were repurposed to agriculture. Jim provided the council with a speech and presentation by Dr Thierry Vrain, former GMO scientist and current organic farmer.  Dr Vrain summarized recently findings about the biocide/herbicide glyphosate.

Third up was Arzeena Hamir, an agrologist and organic farmer of Amara Farm up in Courtney.  An excellent speaker (a fabulous soul too), she focused on how Richmond benefitted from a GE Free Resolution.

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Next was Tony Beck, a PhD from London and a UN Advisor on food security and gender issues.  Eloquent, beyond knowledgeable.  I wish I had taken notes!  What I recall was how municipalities need to take the charge and how 50% of seeds lies with only a handful of companies.

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Afterwards, Rob Pearce, virtuoso drummer and therapist spoke clearly about the dubious and unethical practises of certain biotech patent holders.  Like me he is more of a musician than a public speaker.  But he was wonderful, informative. He went out of his comfort zone.  Respect.

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Dr Joan Russow, erstwhile leader of the Green Party delved into the history of the international struggle against this questionable technology.  Even since I first met Joan, I have been totally bowled away by her energy and focus.  Gratitude for her voice.

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Frances Litman, sparkling, a great speaker and 2012 CRD EcoStar Community Leadership Award Winner on behalf of Creatively United For The Planet, read two statements.  One from the conscious dietician Rachel Dickens and another from Dionne Laslo-Baker from DeeBee’s organic tea pops.

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It didn’t stop there.  No folks.  Three more speakers followed.

First of the trinity was Michael Coon who has been railing against GMOs in Hawaii (ground zero for GMOs).  He’s a powerful speaker and focused his talk on the findings of Steven Druker in the book “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth.”  Wonderful and terrible at the same time. But the eloquence….

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Next was Professor Emeritus Edwin Daniel.  In his 9th decade, he was clear as a bell. And he hit home that there is no independent, long-term studies showing the safety of GMOs.

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To round out was sharp Dr Judy Gaylord.  She was commanding, delivered one truth after the other.  Such impressiveness.

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I was honoured to be there, to be a part of it.  I wanted to take a group photo but we all dispersed at different times.  None of us understood when the motion would be voted on and all thought it would be weeks, not minutes. So I left.  On the way out I got a quick pic with Arzeena and Tony. (Thanks to the dude in uniform at the door for snapping)

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The light outside was good so I finagled a selfie for fun (uncle Godfrey first pointed out this excellent sculpture of Sir John A. Macdonald a couple years ago.)  I like to think of John A holding up the sign!

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I left feeling light, thinking that we’d hear something maybe in a week or two or at the next council session.

BUT THEN, Francis texted me!  It passed.  Unanimously.  Jim called to confirm the news!

This is why Im writing this post now.  In jubilation and exaltation!  Need to share with you all.  Ye who are curious.  Ye who want to know what a council meeting in Victoria looks like.  Ye who may want to bring a motion to your own City Council!

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A little history was made.  In a small provincial capital.  But an important one.  My home since 2009.  This GE Free Resolution is a first for Victoria – and a first for me too.  (Did you know that this was the first time I spoke at at council session?!)

I guess that thinking globally but acting locally has made some kind change.  Today.

Courage is contagious.  Infect others.

Tomorrow.  (Now it’s late: Goodnight dear ones)

 

Breaking Relative Silence

It has been an interesting couple of months for me personally.  I am filled with enormous gratitude for life, my faculties and the love, courage, and greatness I witness every day.  The many wonderful people who have supported me with beautiful words and encouragement I thank you.  There is so much I have wanted to share recently.  From “I Am Steve Marsh” to the Terrible TPP to some inspiring people and events (including my mom Ratana who was recently awarded the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada).  Although I have been posting some Style-Diet Shots, I am otherwise breaking silence.

Through social media (as the mainstream media is still rubbing its eyes, wondering if it should wake up), US state after state and several counties are presenting both labelling bills and GE or GMO Free resolutions.  Clearly, this is one of the biggest issues of our times.   Canada and the US are the only developed countries who do not legislate some kind of labelling of GMOs.  So today I write with a happy heart that we can do something (activism and clicktivism) right here and now today in Canada.  Our collective clicks will become a force for change.  Our voices a sea of myriad droplets rushing in 100 foot waves (Dustin Barca can surf ’em) . So much good has come lately.  Food Babe and Robyn O’Brien and Moms Across America, our Hawaiian siblings and so many others have successfully managed to eke great changes to N. American food recently.  We still have a huge mountain to climb.  But the journey of a thousand miles begins with one single footstep.  Robyn O’Brien talks about the moral compass.  Let’s keep True North.  Let’s hold the corporations to their better angels.

For those who are still confused about whether GMOs are good or bad, I will explain why you should be wary and cautious about GMOs and employ the precautionary principle, apart from the facts that:

1. GMOs have contributed to a massive increase in toxic pesticides and herbicides.

2. GMOs have contributed to the creation of superweeds.

3. GMOs are now being considered by the USDA to be sprayed with 2,4 D also known as Agent Orange.  Since Round-Up (Glyphosate) isn’t working any more, the big chemical companies are resorting to even more toxic applications of the GMO technology.  It appears that the USDA is leaning towards approval despite common sense screaming against it.

4. GMOs have been approved by the government, based on short-term studies done by the same companies selling them.  Every independent, long-term study has shown cause for alarm.

5. Despite the hype about Bio-enhanced foods, most – 90% of GMOs are designed to withstand the herbicide glyphosate also known as Round-Up.

Most North Americans do not know whether they are consuming GMOs since the chemical giants and others like the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association have lobbied against consumer’s right to know, spending millions upon millions to suppress this basic necessity.  Imagine how many hungry people they could have fed instead?  They continue along this tragic path of concealment despite allowing customers elsewhere around the globe this right (about 5 billion see previous post https://thedeepersideblog.com/2013/12/09/gmos-by-nation).  These people in 64+ nations are buying the very same products reformulated without GMOs and or labelled.

There are two things not commonly known about GMOs that I learned from former GMO scientist Dr. Thierry Vrain (youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQkQXyiynYs).  The first is that, when scientists insert foreign genes (usually to resist the antibiotic Round-Up), the process is imprecise and nobody knows where in the DNA of the modified organism this toxic gene ends up.  The second thing is scientists don’t know how many copies are being inserted.  Messing with the DNA of an organism is problematic since biologists continually discover just how intensely, mind-blowingly complicated DNA is.  Even this past December an article in Science turned the original one protein-one gene DNA theory on its head:

http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/12/12/scientists-discover-double-meaning-in-genetic-code/

Nearly every study not conducted by the handful of chemical companies controlling this technology shows serious health and toxic effects on animals and ecosystems.  As famous environmentalist and geneticist (also an alumnus of my alma mater The University of Chicago) David Suzuki has famously said, “Any politician or scientist who tells you these products are safe is either very stupid or lying.”

So what can you do here in Canada?

Today you can effect change with a two pronged approach!

The first is an online petition.  With one click below, you can support the new Federal Labelling Bill M480 “Right to Know” put forth by Murray Rankin, an MP and Lawyer championing people and the environment.  It is wonderful to have an elected official listening to the people, for the people.  Like in the US, we in Canada want GMOs labelled.  And this is no small minority.  Well over 90% of Canadians and Americans consistently polled want GMOs labelled.  We of the over 90% feel it’s a right, given that fat and sugar and even the contents of our mattresses are labelled.  Even those who believe GMOs are good (or can be) still want to know what they are feeding themselves and their families.

Murray Rankin first introduced this bill in Ottawa this past December 2013.  Please take a minute to sign and share and send as widely as you can.

http://petition.ndp.ca/the-food-you-eat

Secondly, if you are convinced like many multitudes, that GMOs have no merit except for fairy tales and real red flag warnings, then you can support a recent campaign to Stop the GM apple.  This apple doesn’t brown when cut.  And remember, the scientists themselves don’t know what processes are being disrupted in the insertion of foreign genes in the process of making this un-necessary apple.  What you can do is speak up against the GM Apple.  Remind your stores where you shop that the apple is using dangerous technology.  Tell them you wont buy it.  Explain how the process of creating GMOs is imprecise and disrupts the DNA of the Apple. Plus once released into our countryside, it will contaminate our other apples.  Quote David Suzuki and Dr Vrain.  Inform them about Dr. Vrain’s Ted Talk and his cross Canada tour to enlighten the public.
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I’ve been reading about Abraham Lincoln who led America at the time of the civil war.  He refused to let the slave states secede at a time a weaker man might have let the US just split into two or allow slavery to perpetuate into the new territories.  Whilst reading, I can’t stop marvelling that people used biology, logic and religion to justify slavery. When such injustice is perpetrated, we are morally obligated to speak out and up.  With right comes might and a sense of noble purpose.  Please ask me if you want more petitions to sign and I’ll dig them up.

Well, Gentle Readers (feeling Victorian after immersing in some Romantic music yesterday), please forgive my ramblings, mistakes, and typos.  I hope to be back again as soon as possible.  In the meantime, thank you for reading.  Thank you for your comments.  Thank you for your commitment to the Earth and each other.  A presto…

GMO Mini Summit

The truth will set you free.

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If you want to know more of the truths of GMOs, please take some time between the 25 – 27 (starting this coming Friday) to follow GMO Mini-Summit. http://gmosummit.org/  It’s free and you can tune in on the internet or by phone.  It will be hosted by best-selling authors Jeffrey Smith and John and Ocean Robbins.

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Please tune in and have your loved ones tune in.  This comes from a concerned place of love for you and the planet.  This comes from a desire to educate.  This comes from all that is good and true and just.  This comes from all that is light.