Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tonight I wrote a letter to the editor (The Guardian) for the first time. I was so incensed by a letter that appeared in Monday's edition that I simply had to rebutt.

The original letter can be viewed here - http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/index.cfm?sid=2218&sc=11

This is my response -


Re: Mr Lank's comments as published in Monday's edition (GM crops a win-win for all). While I agree that pesticide use on crops should be eliminated, I do not believe that adopting genetic modification of our foods is a viable alternative. Pesticide use and genetic modification are two sides of the same coin - they are both products of continued efforts to industrialize agriculture. This intense indulstrialization of food production has become the domain of big business and the demise of family farms and local markets. It is multi-national companies that will 'win' if we allow genetic-modification to go ahead, for they are the ones that are patenting these new crops.

I question the foresight of accepting genetic modification of our foods based on the suggestion there is only a remote possibiliy that problems could emerge. Pesticides have been used in agriculture for over a half a century and we continue to debate the health implications of introducing these toxins to our diet, whilst spraying more and more each year. One need only recall the enthusasim with which DDT was marketed and accepted by the general public to realise the inherent dangers in accepting a new science simply on the basis that it's not yet proven to be harmful. Aside from the potential health risks from GM foods (some documented and some yet to be determined), I believe the greatest thing we stand to lose is biodiversity. The importance of diversity within any species cannot be overlooked.

There is a viable alternative to spraying our crops with pesticides, but it is not GM foods. We need to trust nature's ability to protect crops from disease, to maintain biodiversity and to provide us with food that is rich in taste and nutrients. As consumers we have the power to direct the future of our food. Buying organically and locally, supporting local farmer's markets, eating in-season foods and encouraging our governments to support sustainable agriculture are some of the simple ways that we can take back control of what we eat, where we shop and how we support our local economy.

Shannon Courtney
Cornwall, PE

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