Say NO to Genetic Engineering

P.O. Box 20228
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 7A2

Letters could comment on but are not limited to:

  • Need for long term safety studies;
  • A strategic analysis of any benefits or negative aspects;
  • Need for application of the precautionary principle;
  • Consultation with First Nation (currently 25% of Yukon population, largest land owner);
  • Consultation with public/consumers;
  • Lack of examination of side affects to young people, nursing mothers, elders, etc.;
  • Economic implications to the Yukon and to farmers;
  • Environmental concerns to the land, water and air;
  • Documented evidence of increased inputs;
  • Effect on community as a social tool;
  • Failed examples throughout the developing world;
  • Yukon is the last recognized province/territory/state with currently no GM seeds being planted in an agricultural area within the Americas;
  • Distinct economic advantages to being a GE Free zone;
  • Impacts for climate change and global warming;
  • Climate change will open the north up to increased agriculture over areas currently wild.

Please refrain from any partisan comments as this is not being presented as a political issue.
Thank you in solidarity for your support and help to move this forward,

GE FREE Yukon organization, c/o Tom Rudge, Tory Russell, Debbie Trudeau

A little background on the petition and the history of the campaign in the Yukon:

The Yukon covers an area of just under 490,000 (482,443) sq km. Just under ¼ of the Yukon's population  is First Nation. Currently there are no known genetically engineered crops in the Yukon.

The Yukon has 148 farms of which there are 3 certified organic and 2 transitional organic farms.

For several years  people worked to figure out a process by which to have the Yukon declared a GE Free zone. Strategic sessions and meetings were held . There was interest but a definite lack of cohesive direction. The group didn't move forward, grow or become visible because of this.

Early this spring there was a viewing of the Future of Food and two individuals, Tory Russell and Debbie Trudeau, came forward and said they wanted to help.... now.  Following that first introduction a petition was drawn up and word-smithed by the clerk of the legislature.

The circulation began. 3000 signatures were envisioned on the form, about 10% of the population. At the time of submitting this petition there are actually about 1500 signatories not including the First Nations.

The petition was spread around town to numerous retail outlets and also forwarded to NGO's and volunteer organizations in hopes they would also sign up their membership and network of supporters.

During the summer the petition was taken to the Fireweed Community Market and it was there for people to sign. The market booth was selling cups of fair trade organic coffee by donation as well as information for organic growers and any information about the market itself. Basically an information booth with the petition front and centre.

The GE Free petition and campaign was brought forward to as many gatherings as possible. Work was put into talking to individuals and environmental, alternative health groups. The local organic growers group signed on quickly and became an advocate. The Chamber of Commerce received a letter outlining the petition and a presentation was also made at a Yukon Regional Traditional Foods and Environmental Contaminants Workshop hosted by the Council of Yukon First Nations.

The agriculture branch of the Yukon was informed of the idea of the petition early on and it was that initial conversation that lead to the wording of the petition itself. The Ag branch openly said it would not, could not support an outright ban on GE crops because they are legal in the rest of Canada. Next best thing was a 10 year moratorium on the planting of the seeds until there have been studies to show either the benefit, or the negative aspects for the Yukon. The Ag department chair said nothing negative to this idea so this was what was put forward.

A month ago the Agriculture branch went through their 5 year strategic development plan and it also had a round table planning session with the industry. The result of this was that in the final draft of the Ag plan presented, organic was strong on the list of priorities and so were local marketing initiatives and the issue of GE Crops within the Yukon.

This development plan forms the framework for the Ag branches next 5 years of work and also for the Government to look at and support.
After the petition is tabled in the Yukon legislature, there are 8 working days to decide whether to move forward with the petition or to set it aside, meaning it's dropped. This is when phone calls and emails need to be sent to members of all parties to support the initiative.

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© Tom Rudge 2007