A letter writer supports the city’s decision to allow residents (such as Kate McMaster

Live here, eat here, grow here

I call upon Surrey City Council to declare Surrey the 62nd genetically engineered-free zone in British Columbia.

I am writing in response to “Chickens come home to roost,” (Surrey Leader, July 11).

I applaud the City of Surrey’s decision to allow chickens on properties smaller than one acre. To paraphrase Mayor Watts, people want fresh fruit, fresh produce and fresh free-range eggs. In the current North American food system, it is estimated that, on average, food travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate.

By the time it reaches our homes, it is far from fresh. More and more people are waking up to the fact that our modern society has lost food security.

Mass-produced processed food from all corners of the globe and big-agri methods of growing produce, beef, poultry and pork have combined to give us a food system that is bad for us and the environment.

Urban gardens and backyard chickens are an indication that we want to reclaim our food. According to the article, the mayor has indicated this is the direction the city wants to go in with respect to food production.

The article mentions the renaming of the Agricultural Advisory Committee. It is now the Agriculture and Food Security Advisory Committee. For me the key word is “security.”

However, food security is not possible when so much of the food growing/production is controlled by Monsanto and other multinational corporations. The monumental issue of  the ever-increasing presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food is one that must be changed if we are truly to have food security.

The promise of GMOs was that: they would solve world hunger; improve life in the developing world; allow farmers to generate higher crop yields; and reduce reliance on pesticides. None of those promises has come to fruition.

Rather than increased yields, farmers have seen smaller yields. During the California droughts last summer, conventional crops fared much better than the GMO crops, which mostly failed.

If anything, GMOs have worsened life for the subsistence farmers of India and elsewhere. Forced to go into debt every year to purchase GMO cotton seeds from Monsanto (GMO seeds are sterile so farmers can no longer save seeds from year to year), farmers are left in debt at the end of the season if the crop fails.

To date, nearly 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide to escape the crushing debt load.

Rather than decreased pesticide use, we are seeing more Monsanto Roundup being used. In the first 13 years of GMOs (1996-2009), American farmers sprayed an additional 383 million pounds of herbicide. Mother Nature is responding with devastating superweeds so that farmers are forced to spray more and more. Since 1996, at least nine new species of weeds have developed that are resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup.

I call upon Surrey City Council to declare Surrey the 62nd genetically engineered-free zone in British Columbia. I wish to see Surrey be a community where no GMO life form is grown, created, patented, approved, bought or sold. If  Surrey’s city councillors truly care about food security and the heath and well-being of its residents, that is as good a place to begin as any.


C.A. Archibald, Surrey

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