Metchosin farmer Dieter Eisenhawer is surprised to find that slugs have gotten into his organically grown strawberries. Eisenhawer has been growing organic produce for more than 20 years and is pleased that Metchosin has banned the growing of all genetically modified organisms.

Metchosin envisions GMO-free Island

District encouraging coastal ban on genetically modified organisms

Metchosin is spearheading a plan for Island and coastal communities to be free of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs).

The district banned the growing or selling of GMOs in November and this month prepared a similar motion to be brought to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities meeting in April. The annual AVICC convention will be held in Sooke this year.

“I think there is too much uncertainty (around) GMOs and what they do to the environment,” said Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne.

“All of this takes a lot of time to find out. Think about how long it took for people to realize cigarettes were bad for us and caused cancer.”

Some key concerns Milne listed include the proliferation of “super-weeds,” increased use of pesticides and the transfer of pollen from GMO plants to those that aren’t. A certified organic farmer could lose status if their crops are tainted by GMO plants, she said.

“Vancouver Island and coastal communities are isolated from the rest of B.C.,” Milne said. Given the environment and wind patterns on the coast, it is possible to be a genetically engineered-free zone, she added.

A related motion – from the Okanagan-Similkameen regional district – passed at the Union of B.C. municipalities last year regarding organic tree fruits.

“A number of countries won’t accept genetically engineered crops,” said Milne, addressing organic farmers’ concerns.

Last year Metchosin brought a motion to decriminalize marijuana to the AVICC convention. It passed, was forwarded to the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ convention and passed there as well. Milne hopes to see this motion have the same success.

charla@goldstreamgazette.com