About 120 Revelstokians took part in the international March Against Monsanto protest on May 25, protesting seed and agribusiness giant Monsanto and genetically modified organisms (GMO).
Protesters marched in hundreds of cities and towns globally.
The group gathered by the Revelstoke Community Garden at the Revelstoke United Church on Saturday morning, carrying signs and listening to a speech by co-organizer Andrew Gilberds.
He explored Monsanto’s history, and explained its role in creating genetically modified organisms, such as pesticide-resistant agricultural seeds. “They own the world’s seed, pesticide, and biotechnology that is threatening not only the biodiversity of our planet but the food supply as well,” Gilberds said.
Genetically modified plants are grown from seeds altered to resist herbicides and pesticides, or increase production or nutrition benefits.
Gilberds linked GMO crops to health concerns, disease in humans, decreased biodiversity, the rise of pesticide-resistant pests, bee colony collapse, genetic damage through cross-pollination and diseases in cattle created by Monsanto’s hormones for cows.
(Read a transcript of his entire speech at the end of this story.)
Gilberds criticized the federal government for failed agriculture policies and encouraged participants to sign a petition calling for mandatory labelling of GMO foods.
“We are here to ask you to support a petition to the Canadian government requiring all GMO food to be labelled,” Gilberds said. “It’s time we start taking control back from these corporation that only understand one thing – money. We must use that against them by choosing not to support them. Shop locally, support community gardens like this one. No one else is going to make the changes for us. It’s up to us.”
He asked marchers to support Bill C-257, a private member’s bill created by B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamenenko (NDP). C-257 introduced amendments to the federal Food and Drugs Act that would require labelling of GMO foods.
The marchers then headed down Mackenzie Avenue for a rally at the Revelstoke Farm & Craft Market.
Marcher Erin Potter said awareness of food issues, such as GMO, is fairly high and increasing in Revelstoke. “This was about supporting organic produce and the future of growing free and being able to control our own gardens, crops, plants and seeds,” she said. “I feel like Revelstoke is pretty progressive. For the most part people are pretty aware of what’s going on. It seems to me like a lot of people are all about wanting to grow their own food or know where their own food comes from and eat as healthy as they can.”
Here is a transcript used as notes by Revelstoke March Against Monsanto co-organizer Andrew Gilberds for his speech, which did stick very closely to the script.