Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor


We all eat GMO food in one form or another

Recently I attended a speaker’s tour on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The speakers were Dr. Thierry Vrain and Dr. Shiv Chopra.

Dr. Vrain is a retired soil biologist and genetic scientist with Agriculture Canada, and Dr. Chopra is a microbiologist with Health Canada who was pressured to approve the Bovine Growth Hormone. When he refused, he was fired in 2004.

I’m always surprised when I hear people confusing genetic engineering with hybridization and breeding. We hybridize plants with each other to make a bigger flower, or a new colour, or resistance to disease. We breed animals together for certain traits.  This is done within the laws of nature. But genetic manipulation is just that – taking the genes from one species and inserting it into another. Spiders were not intended to breed with goats. Jellyfish won’t breed with pigs. And tomatoes don’t mate with fish.  Even human genes have been tried with rice, corn and tobacco.

This is runaway technology with no holds barred.

Some information I picked up from the talks:

There are now 420 million acres of genetically engineered crops being grown at this time, mainly to allow plants to accept the herbicide Roundup. This was done to reduce the use of pesticides but it was a dismal failure. The use of pesticides increased by over 600 million pounds since 1996 and now the weeds have become resistant and more and more Roundup is necessary.

It was also touted that yields would increase. Another failure – yields are higher where no GMO crops are grown.

We lost our flax and canola markets in Europe because of GMOs, yet we’re still toying with allowing it in our apples, alfalfa, and fish (to name a few).

There are numerous studies that are alarming but squashed by the big players who conduct their own “studies” and tell us that no one has gotten sick from GMO food. But since GMOs have been on the market there is a spike in celiac and Crohn’s disease, autism, Alzheimer’s, depression, obesity, infertility, gastro-intestinal disorders and kidney and liver damage.

We are all eating GMO food in one form or another and it’s difficult to avoid if we eat (and we all do) corn (sweet, starch, oil), soy, canola (in almost all salad dressings), sugar (beets – cane sugar is okay so far), grain (because of all the pesticides used), papaya, and maybe pineapple.

If we could convince our governments to ban five things, all the food we eat would be organic:

1. Hormones – these are used to bring all the animals in a particular facility into heat at once and is a carcinogen.

2. Antibiotics – bovine growth hormone causes more mastitis which requires more antibiotics.

3. Slaughterhouse waste – this is the floor scrapings from slaughterhouses (bones, blood, skin, feathers and even road kill) which is rendered down and fed to animals, even milk cows.

4. GMOs

5. Pesticides

But we may as well stand in front of a train.

One statement sent a chill down my spine:  “We are destroying the whole ecological system from the inside.”

The room was full of concerned people but we noticed few politicians.  We were pleased to see George Bush and Alan Patton there (both farmers) and, of course, Arlene Arlow who helped organize this with Alex Atamanenko, our MP, who was not in attendance himself but was represented by Lilly Zekanovic, who told us that Alex’s Bill C257, Mandatory Labeling for Genetically Modified Foods, is still alive.

This tour has been met with standing room only wherever it’s been presented as more and more people are becoming aware of this issue.

Oh by the way, another revelation – Stokes Seeds has been bought by Monsanto.


Donna Stocker, Cawston 


FortisBC’s ‘Energy Diet’ a disappointing project

(The following is a letter to BC Premier Christy Clark and the BC Utilities Commission.)


It’s early morning and as I awake I hear the sound of my electric furnace blowing warmth throughout my home.

I’ll lie here snuggled under the covers in my PJs, undershirt and socks until the temperature rises to its 67 F morning temperature. Once the furnace stops I know it’s safe to make my way to the bathroom. Safely there, I turn on the wall heater which quickly reaches a toasty 70 F as I go through my morning routine. I get fully dressed in my flannel lined blue jeans, two shirts and a sweater before I turn the space heater off. No, I’m not going outside, it’s just that 67 F  feels cold to me

I’m retired and my wife will be retiring soon and like many retirees money is tight.  Our electric bills have gone up substantially over the past several years in spite of the improvements we’ve made to our home to make it more energy efficient (increasing our EnerGuide rating from 66 to 72 in 2006).

These days our thermostat is set to 67 F during the day and 63 F after 10 pm. Our home’s temperature settings weren’t always this low and we used to leave the daytime setting at 70 F and night time at 68 F.

Ah, those were the days, but now we’ve been put on a diet;  an “energy diet.”

It seems that the British Columbia Utilities Commission  together with  Fortis think we are careless with our electricity use. Unfortunately we run everything in our home with electricity and are being penalized for it.

When we purchased our home in 2002, electricity cost $0.05509 kWh and now it’s costing us $0.08803 kWh for the first 1600 kWh plus $0.12952 for the overage. Using our average yearly energy consumption of 24,000 kWh, our average all-in rate “post residential inclining block” would be $0.1129 kWh. That’s more than double the 2002 rate.

Fortis had been pushing their PowerSense,” “Reduce Your Use,” “LiveSmart BC” and “Energy Diet” propaganda for a while now, so we decided to take them up on their subsidized  “energy efficiency evaluation.” Thinking that maybe they’re right and we could possibly save some money here, we decided to have the audit done.Part of Fortis’s spiel was that the assessor would provide us with an energy kit that probably was worth more than what we would pay for the assessment.

That was our first disappointment.  What we received were a paper fridge thermometer, four compact fluorescent bulbs, one aerator and one shower head.

Our second disappointment was with the actual “energy efficiency evaluation” and its subsequent  report. Not at all like one would expect. It’s initial findings were “you could reduce your energy consumption by zero per cent” and the EnerGuide rating came back  at 72.  That was the same as our 2006 “post improvement” reading even though we had made several improvements since.

The report made no mention of what kind of savings we could receive if we converted to gas or had a heat pump installed or anything else. Frankly I was disappointed with the report as it seemed very minimal and very standardized with generalized statements. Basically it wasn’t much more than just a blower door test and the results that come with that.

When I complained to Fortis about the report and its lack of options they had the assessor re-do the report. I was told that I should have told the assessor that converting to gas, replacing furnaces and installing heat pumps were options that I would consider.

The revised report estimated the savings that could be realized with a combination of a heat pump and an new air conditioner.  That combination in itself is questionable as it is my understanding that usually a heat pump would replace the air conditioner and run in conjunction with a furnace for the cooler temperatures.

We priced out several options and decided that it would take us too long to see any financial benefit if at all at the current rates. If the cost of electricity keeps going up and natural gas comes down that may change but historically natural gas is at the bottom end of the scale. I suspect the price of natural gas will start drifting back up and be twice as expensive in the coming years. After all, some one has to pay for all those new pipelines and associated infrastructure.

Our question is directed to BC Premier Christy Clark and the commission.

Why are we discriminated against and having to subsidize the “non-electric heat” Fortis customers with this ill-conceived “residential inclining block” rate? What more do you expect us to do?

Rick Deis, Osoyoos


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