GENET archive


9-Misc: News on efforts to make Prince-Edward-Island (Canada) a GEfree zone

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  David Suzuki backs GM opponents on Island
SOURCE: The Journal - Pioneer, Canada, by Jim Brown
DATE:   26 Jul 2004 

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David Suzuki backs GM opponents on Island

MOUNT STEWART-One of Canada's most acclaimed scientists has thrown his
support behind the efforts of a coalition of Island farmers and
environmental activists, who want to ban GM crops on P.E.I.

Danny Hendricken, district director of the National Farmers Union (NFU)
on P.E.I., says his organization had hoped geneticist David Suzuki, host
of CBC's The Nature of Things, would travel to the Island to help the
campaign. But Hendricken and other members of the coalition were
delighted to receive an impassioned letter instead.

There are overwhelming demands on Suzuki's time and he is booked for at
least the next two years, said Hendricken.

But Suzuki found time to send a letter praising the coalition, which
includes organic farmers, Sharon Labchuk, founder of Earth Action, and
the Council of Canadians.

"I believe what you are doing is important and courageous," wrote Suzuki,
in his letter.

Suzuki stated biotechnology, "the application of molecular techniques to
alter the genetic blueprint of life forms is a radical, revolutionary
technology...What biotechnology does is exploit very powerful tools to
manipulate genes so that organisms can be deliberately designed according
to human specifications, with results that are pushed by time frames
imposed by economics."

He went to write the industry's advances, which may seem at first blush
"impressive," are doomed to failure.

"Biotechnology is based on a scientific rationale of reductionism, that
is, focus on the most elemental parts of nature with a view to
understanding the components of a system to eventually explain the whole.
It would be like trying to figure out how a radio works by figuring out
how all the parts work. Pretty hard to do, but the big problem is that
this approach, while providing powerful insights into parts of nature,
provides a shattered world of bits and pieces...By focusing on parts,
scientists - biotechnologists - cannot begin to anticipate what their
manipulations will do to whole organisms. We don't see the rhythms,
cycles, patterns of nature that are so important in the real world
because science fragments, disconnects, shatters."

Hendricken says the anti-GM coalition will continue to press Island MLAs
to eliminate GM crops in the province. But he warns time may be fast
running out, with hundreds of acres of GM crops already planted and
spreading genetic material.

Genetic contamination could devastate much of the Island's organic
farming industry, unless GM crops are banned.

He estimates there are anywhere from 200 to 500 acres of GM corn on the
Island, and another 1,500 to 1,800 acres of canola and 3,500 to 4,000
acres of soybeans.

Many European countries, including the European Union, have banned the
import of all crops that are GM-based.

Cross pollination of crops from so-called "genetic drift" is a very
serious threat, warned Hendricken, adding the coalition is planning to
bring guest speakers, who are leading authorities in the field, to the
Island this fall for its anti-GM campaign.

The Island's potato industry is secure from GM tinkering. P.E.I.'s giant
processors are wary about losing markets if they allow GM spuds to take
root in the Island's red soils, said Hendricken.

In his letter Suzuki warned the dangers of DDT, CFCs and other powerful
chemicals weren't known until long after they were introduced to the

"I remind you that years after DDT was used in the millions of pounds,
biologists discovered a hitherto completely unknown phenomenon,
biomagnefication, only when eagles began to disappear and scientists
tracked it down. Years after CFCs were used by the millions of pounds
scientists discovered high above the earth, that chlorine free radicals
were broken off the CFC molecules and they are potent scavengers of
ozone. No amount of care could have anticipated biomagnefication or ozone
depletion because reductionism restricted our vision." 


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