GF council makes it clear they support the ag society's efforts but are not GE free
City councillors want to make it clear that Grand Forks is not a genetically-engineered (GE)-free zone.
The issue came up at the regular Sept. 9 meeting when Coun. Gary Smith made a motion to rescind the previous motion from their Aug. 19 meeting.
The original motion stated that council supported the Grand Forks and Boundary Regional Agricultural Society’s (GFBRAS) efforts in principle and that they would consider voting against GE products at the 2013 Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention.
“This is beyond the scope of our jurisdiction or power,” said Smith when he moved to rescind the decision. He added the evidence against GE food is not scientifically sound and that there is no way to prove that Grand Forks is a GE-free zone.
Some publications, like the blog Society for a GE Free BC, added Grand Forks to a list of municipalities that have taken the initiative to becoming free of genetically engineered (or genetically modified) products. That website lists Grand Forks as the 62nd municipality in the province to take such action.
Councillors discussed this and whether they should send the website a letter asking that they are removed from the list.
Coun. Michael Wirischagin said he wasn’t at the previous meeting but the motion seems simple and that council isn’t really committing to anything. He called the original motion “reasonable.” He did agree that it should be clear that the motion is a show of support, not a claim to be GE-free.
Mayor Brian Taylor said he agreed the science is pretty vague but by supporting the GFBRAS in principle, they are showing a support for safer food in the community. He also said he didn’t think they should send a letter because it might make council look like they aren’t serious.
Coun. Neil Krog said that the website defined municipalities as GE-free if they have passed a resolution against GE crops or animals in its jurisdiction and that council’s motion doesn’t fit in that criteria.
After council’s discussions, they decided not to rescind the previous motion with only Smith voting in favour of rescinding.
Chief administrative officer (CAO) Doug Allin said council was not told they would be added to a list of GE-free municipalities.
He said the Aug. 19 committee of the whole meeting where Jan Westlund presented to council on behalf of the GFBRAS felt more like they were expressing their concerns on GE products and encouraging councillors to vote on the topic at the UBCM convention this month.
“I think they’ve gone too far,” said Taylor, on how Grand Forks is being widely representing as a GE-free zone. “I think that’s the voice of council.”
Councillors decided to send a letter letting them know they do not want to be on the list of GE-free municipalities.