BIG PENCIL NOTE:
We live in a community that in general (I like to think) does its best to find a balance between what we perceive as the natural environment and our position in it. One of our challenges is to find that critical balance between our needs, while retaining as much as possible the essence that brought many of us here in the first place.
Scanning the recent divergent perceptions on the plan to re-imagine some of Gabriola’s hydro poles into public art and its potential to impact our current landscape, I am supportive of the shift to include public discussion on this topic. To our credit as a community, the process over the past few weeks gives us some insight into how some of our local social constructs can and do work through dialogue and consultation. It remains to be seen what the end result will look like and how it will change the place we call home, however I, for one, am glad of the process.
As I am writing this we have the first bear(s) on Gabriola in perhaps several decades. It is ironic in a day when so many of us revere the natural environment that the bear is viewed by many as the intruder.
It is unfortunate that we cannot enter dialogue with the bear and voice our opinions the way we are doing with public art. We could float the idea that we could coexist if only they (the bear) would not disturb anything that belongs to us, like our garbage – beehives – bird feeders– etc. In other words, please do not go too far in your ursine nature so that it will adversely effect our current version of reality.
Given the nature of bears and of humans I suspect that poor Bruin’s days are numbered, given the many opportunities presented by our lifestyle choices that have not taken a bear into the mix. The best scenario would be for the bear to swim back to the big island where rummaging through a few garbage cans would not be a newsworthy item.
Several weekends ago I was invited to a Seed Savers Training Event at “Providence Farm” a cross-Canada collaborative effort sponsored by Unitarian Services Canada (USC). In attendance was a diverse group of people from the mid-island area who have the common goal of building awareness of seed saving techniques, in addition to building capacity to increase local seed production.
The morning consisted of an overview of some practical aspects of seed saving as well as the current state of production. We also touched on the critical importance of re-localising and maintaining public, as opposed to private, ownership of these valuable genetic resources. Throughout the day the narrative was interspersed with stories of efforts and challenges in keeping GMOs (genetically modified organisms) out of our common heritage of seeds and by extension off of our plates and out of our farms and gardens.
On the drive back home from the Duncan area I kept reflecting on the nature of the multinational corporations that are driving the “science” of GMOs. Our food systems have been infiltrated in a large part by stealth, resulting in the current situation of up to 70 per cent of processed foods in our supermarkets containing GMOs. In addition there are reports of commodity crops being contaminated through genetic drift which essentially means that the resulting seeds become the property of the multinationals.
Worldwide, 85 to 90 per cent of people have stated clearly the desire for proper labelling of products containing GMOs to enable informed choices. The monsters at the garden gate act like living organisms driven by a corporate biological imperative much like our little bear is driven by its needs. Our protests over GMOs have fallen on deaf ears, and although capable of understanding and communicating, the gene giants appear to be out of control and do not respond to any sort of public process. Our challenge is to free ourselves of the tyranny of an almost invisible threat.
We are not helpless. By way of example:
We have methods in place so that our voices are heard, as with the Gabriola Arts Council, and we have the opportunity to influence Public Art on the Island.
With limitations given the nature of wildlife, we can bear-proof our properties and educate ourselves and try to learn to live with our wilder inhabitants
And we can follow the example of Richmond, Salt Spring, Nelson, Kaslo, Rossland, and Powell River who all have passed motions opposing genetically modified plants and crops within their boundaries and build on the process of becoming GMO FREE!
www.goal-2025.com/gmo-free, or email@example.com
Eric Veale operates Supply Line Organic Foods, an active Social Enterprise dedicated to improving the understanding and viability of sustainable agriculture. Contact him at: www.slo-foods.com, or www.goal-2025.com.
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