Having attended and presented at the AVICC in Sooke last weekend, I feel it is important that the public learn what actually occurred before the AVICC voted to ban GE crops on Vancouver Island.

The proponent of the resolution presents a great deal of discredited pseudo-science. He began by showed the famous 'Pusztai poison potatoes '(GM potatoes with lectin gene) scare story. The Royal Society in the UK completely dismissed that report as poor science that no conclusions can be drawn from.

He then claimed Chapela (a well known anti-GMO scientist) found transgenic DNA in Chinese rivers. Careful examination of the data in the paper shows Chapela found no such thing. The DNA bands are all the wrong sizes and no inserted DNA was found at all. Chapela had a publication ten years ago in Nature where he claimed to have found GE contamination of Mexican maize. Two scientists from the University of Georgia and me published a critique that demonstrated the Chapela group found nothing. That paper was eventually retracted by Nature (the only paper ever). The Chinese DNA paper is destined to the same fate.

He then claimed the FDA (US) did not review GE crops before commercialization. That is simple not true. Of the 129 GE crops that have been commercialized, 129 went through the FDA evaluation process.

He then claimed a report out of Montreal found Bt proteins in maternal and fetal blood. That paper was soundly debunked when it was shown the authors used a procedure for plants not blood and the levels they found were below the detection limits of the assays they used.

He finished by showing the 'Seralini report' out of France. He called it controversial. In reality it was soundly dismissed by food safety and health experts around the world. Seralini used rats that develop tumors spontaneously at rates of 45-80%. Further the control rats in his study developed tumors at rates three times the rate of the rats that ate the highest amounts of GE corn. There were far too many procedural mistakes to list here. This link for Health Canada contains more information.

http: //www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/ gmf-agm/seralini-eng.php

According to Statistics Canada, the organic food industry represents ~2% of the Canadian food supply. They set up their own self-imposed GE free restrictions. They have now convinced the AVICC that the 2% of Canadian farmers should be able to dictate the farming practices of the other 98% of Canadian farmers.

The resolution was based on false information: "resulting in lawsuits, loss of organic certification".The truth is organic certification is not based on the end product but on the method used to grow the crops therefore GE pollen has zero effect on organic certification.

http: //www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/ ongc-cgsb/programme-program/ normes-standards/internet/bio-org/ documents/032-0310-2008-eng.pdf

The "lawsuits against organic farmers" is also a myth. Last year the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association sued Monsanto in NY State. There were 30,000 plaintiffs. The judge asked for the evidence of organic farmers losing certification from trace amounts of GE in their crop and exactly ZERO came forward with evidence. Next the judge asked for evidence that Monsanto had sued farmers for trace amounts of GE in their crop. Again exactly ZERO people came forward. The judge threw out the case stating it was a transparent attempt to create a controversy where none exists.

The conference was told these facts. Therefore the premise of the resolution was false, the fear generating harm stories were false. The AVICC conference knew all these facts as the evidence was presented to them. One is left asking by what criteria did the delegates decide to hamstring the 98% of VI farmers.

The real science is stated clearly in this 2012 statement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science: "Moreover, the AAAS Board said, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and "every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques."

Public policy based on emotion (in this case fear), is not good public policy.

Robert Wager Vancouver Island University Nanaimo

April 23, 2013