On Saturday, May 25 many Oliver and area residents attended a demonstration in Penticton that was staged to raise awareness about Monsanto, a company that specializes in genetic modification technology.
The crowd gathered at the Gyro Bandshell, where kids and families painted picket signs while hearing from a panel of speakers that included Oliver organic farmer Gord Forbes, who has been fighting to educate people about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) for years.
“GMOs are the greatest threat to the world’s food supply and Monsanto is trying to control the whole system from seed to supermarket,” said Forbes. “There are no human studies on GMOs and animal studies have shown many serious health effects. Monsanto owns over 90 per cent of North America’s seed companies and produces some of the most harmful environmental contaminants. The one that owns the seed, controls the food and rules the world.”
After the speeches, nearly 400 people marched peacefully through the Farmer’s Market, receiving support from most of the vendors, many who are themselves organic farmers. The march wrapped up outside the office of MP Dan Albas, who was not present. In fact, only one politician was present – Area C director Allan Patton. Patton is currently working towards the implementation of a “GMO-free Okanagan” and hopefully a GMO-free Canada.
The list of countries worldwide that are restricting the distribution of genetically modified seeds continues to grow, although North American policy makers continue to question the validity of the argument that GMOs are not safe for human consumption.
The march was one of over hundreds of similar events that took place on the same day, all over the world. Besides a noted lack of political support, there was little mention of the movement in the mainstream media.
Locals Supporting Locals founder Kevin Proteau organized the Penticton event with Josie Bergeron. The lack of mainstream media and political support did not surprise him, but he was overwhelmed by the turnout at the march.
“It was great to see the local press,” said Proteau, adding that despite consultation, no one from larger media outlets attended. He couldn’t be happier about the support the march received from the community, stating that it was “absolutely fantastic.”
The event was just one of many scheduled throughout the Okanagan this summer. On June 19 there will be a “Sovereignty Self-Empowerment Seminar” held in Penticton, which will feature members of the Sovereign Squamish Government. There is also another march scheduled for October 12 in Kelowna.
For more information on either of these events, stay tuned to the events section of localssupportinglocals.ca.
Special to the Chronicle