Kimberly Porlier poses in St. Jean Baptiste Park with one of the posters for her upcoming event. – Stephen Dafoe photo
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A local version of the global March Against Monsanto is being organized for World Food Day on Oct. 12. Marchers will depart from St. Jean Baptiste Park at noon, marching down 100 Avenue to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre, where organizers will screen Genetic Roulette, a documentary about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).
Organizer and Morinville resident Kimberly Porlier said she has been learning about GMOs and biotech foods over the past decade and has become more passionate about the matter since having children. “I’m concerned about reading the labels and seeing what’s in our foods,” she said. “You think you are giving your child something that’s real fruit and come to find out it’s been genetically modified and is full of high-fructose corn syrup and all of these other ingredients that have been proven over the last few years to cause everything from mood disorders to asthma to allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer; a whole wide range of health issues.”
The Oct. 12 event is one of many such marches taking place around the world that day. The event identifies Monsanto by name; a company Porlier said is one of the largest biotech companies involved in genetically modifying food. But local marchers will be walking and talking about all companies involved in genetically modifying foods. The march is looking to raise awareness about protecting food supplies, supporting local farms, protecting the environment, promoting organic solutions, and exposing what organizers see as cronyism between big business and government.
“We’ve already come to a place where 80 per cent of the food on our shelves is genetically modified without the general public’s awareness,” she said. “I think if we don’t bring awareness to the subject, they will take over our food supply. That is their goal.”
It is something Porlier and those supporting the event want to prevent. The organizer said Canada and the United States have the highest cancer rates of all the industrialized nations in the world. “Canada and the United States are the largest producers of genetically modified organisms,” she said.
Monsanto disputes the claims its crops are unsafe. The company’s website indicates, “…food derived from authorized genetically-modified (GM) crops is as safe as conventional (non-GM-derived) food.” Further corporate information suggests the first large-scale planting of herbicide tolerant soybeans took place in 1996 after passing US regulations and that subsequent “GM crops with herbicide tolerance, insect tolerance and virus resistance have been given clearance for planting and consumption.” The company claims there has been no “substantiated instance of illness or harm associated with GM crops.”
Porlier and the event’s supporters do not believe the corporate claims, but the Morinville event will not solely be in opposition to big business and biotech foods. The plan is to educate participants about the healthier opportunities available closer to home.
“We will have a celebration of local foods and organic foods, and some awareness regarding what Monsanto is doing and their genetic modification of our crops and our food supply,” she said, adding the event will feature local agricultural speakers and giveaways geared towards awareness on how to make healthier choices. “I think there has been a global shift in our awareness. All of us are starting to become more concerned about it. People are starting to [be involved with] growing back to your roots.”
Porlier said there were marches in 52 countries held in May of this year, organized by people who want genetically modified food stopped. The October event is also set to take place in 52 countries. More than 400 cities and towns are set to participate.
The Morinville March Against Monsanto will take place Oct. 12 at noon. For more information visit facebook.com/GMOfreemorinville.