Tag Archives: Thierry Vrain

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)

 

Kill the Scientists?

Professor John Volpe introduced the evening with a phrase taken from Henry VI “let’s kill the lawyers.” He adapted it to “Let’s kill the scientists.”  I’m still wondering what John, head of The School of Environmental Science, meant by that.  He is a scientist and marine ecologist. Was he advocating for killing science?  Surely not.  Could it be that in today’s day and age we aren’t listening to the scientists?  Or not right kind of scientists?  It turns out that many scientific jobs, that are designed to safeguard what we hold dear, have been axed.  We’re effectively killing them.  Silencing their research.  Shredding their reputations.  Calling them pseudo-scientists.  Calling them story- tellers.  Is that what Professor Volpe meant?

Room A110 at the David Turpin building at the University of Victoria wasn’t big enough.  After we had all settled in, having taken off our coats, mittens, hats, and scarves (it was a cold evening)….  We were asked to move. To an even larger room to accommodate the overflowing crowd.

Dr. Vrain’s talk held example after example of scientists whose work had been discredited.  From Seralini to Pusztai.  In both cases they were heavily criticized by corporate scientists with strong ties to Biotech.  Pusztai, after 30 year as much celebrated biochemist and nutritionist, lost his job in the 90s after coming out with a feed study on GMOs.  He was just doing science.  Later he was awarded the 2005 Whistle blower award from Germany.  He subsequently has been honoured for the hero he is. Seralini is right now replicating his own 2012 study which showed alarming tumor growth amid other numerous ill-effects of rats eating GMOs.  Seralini’s methods are now vindicated by none other than the European Food Safety Authority.

Dr Vrain explained how the GMO technology is failing and spectacularly.  Due to superweeds and pests they are resorting to using 2,4 -D (active component in agent orange).  If this isn’t a fail then what is? And crops are yielding higher in Europe where they don’t have GMOs.  This goes to show that the Yield argument is no longer valid.  What about glyphosate?  It is toxic, to amphibians, to fish, to bacteria.   It is known for its chelating ability; in us it strips away heavy metals.  In high doses it is lethal to humans as the farmers of India know only too well.  There are currently 400 million acres with crops that are designed to be glyphosate-resistant.  That’s their only noteworthy trait.  Dr. Vrain also explained the imprecision involved in the technology, the gene gun.  They don’t know where the DNA is going; they are shooting it randomly with total disregard for what processes are being disrupted. Although we don’t have causal studies showing harm in Humans, we do have peer reviewed-studies in laboratory animals.  What more do we need?

After presenting the evidence, Dr Vrain was asked if he would support banning this technology.

He said,

“Yes.”

Dr Vrain is a retired scientist who spent much of his career attesting to the safety of GMOs.  He’s now Blowing the Whistle on the GMO industry (owned by a handful of Chemical companies). If you cant attend his Cross Canada tour, check out his Ted x talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQkQXyiynYs

Prayer To Future Beings

You live inside us, beings of the future.

In the spiral ribbons of our cells, you are here.  In our rage for the burning forests, the poisoned fields, the oil-drowned seals, you are here.  You beat in our hearts through late-night meetings.  You accompany us to clear-cuts and toxic dumps and the halls of the lawmakers.  It is you who drive our dogged labors to save what is left.

O you who will walk this Earth when we are gone, stir us awake.  Behold through our eyes the beauty of this world.  Let us feel your breath in our lungs, your cry in our throat.  Let us see you in the poor, the homeless, the sick.  Haunt us with your hunger, hound us with your claims, that we may honour the life that links us.

You have as yet no faces we can see, no names we can say.  But we need only hold you in our mind, and you teach us patience.  You attune us to measures of time where healing can happen, where soil and souls can mend.  You reveal courage within us we had not suspected, love we had not owned.

O you who come after, help us remember: we are your ancestors.  Fill us with gladness for the work that must be done.

– Joanna Macy

Reminder that tonight there is a talk at The University of Victoria by Dr Thierry Vrain on GMOs.  7 pm room A110 in David Turpin Building.  Bring your sceptic friends, the ones that still think that GMOs are saving the world.  The ones who don’t know the reality or are confused.  Those who’ve read so much about the promise of GMOs.  Tell them to ask questions…  Like: Are there nutritionally superior GMO crops?    What is the evidence that GMOs don’t increase yields?  Do GMOs increase or decrease pesticides?  Ask about superweeds and super pests.  Ask about the precautionary principle.

Dr Vrain is a retired scientist who spent much of his career attesting to the safety of GMOs.  He’s now Blowing the Whistle on the GMO industry (owned by a handful of Chemical companies). If you can’t go, take 17 mins and have a listen to his Ted x talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQkQXyiynYs

Thierry Vrain

A vocal spokesman for GMOs during his career at Agriculture Canada, Scientist Dr Thierry Vrain is now speaking out against GMOs.  He farms organically now.  Unlike people like me who have read the science and come to the conclusions that GMOs are not necessary to feed the world, he actually has done the science.

In his TED talk http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-Gene-Revolution-The-Future, Dr Vrain demonstrates that GMOs don’t increase yields, do increase pesticide use.  Biotech says that the crops use fewer pesticides but that was before superweeds and superpests.  Pesticide use has gone up exponentially since GMOs were introduced.  Hear it from the expert himself Monday November the 18th at the University Of Victoria.  Come with questions and bring sceptics!

Time: 7 pm

Date: Monday November 18th, 2013

Place: Room A 110 David Turpin Building, University Of Victoria

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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.