November 9, 2004, Isabelle Southcott, The Powell River Peak -- CropChoice.com:
Powell River has been presented with the provincial
agricultural achievement of the year award for being
declared the first genetically engineered (GE) free
crop zone in Canada.
Julie Bellian, manager of the Open Air Market and organizer
of the Powell River Fall Fair, accepted the award on
behalf of the community at the BC Association of Agricultural
Fairs and Exhibitions annual conference held in Abbotsford
"The fall fair made a presentation describing
the success of a coalition of local Powell River groups
who succeeded in having the regional district [board]
officially declare Powell River Regional District as
a genetically engineered free crop zone," she said.
Although Bellian accepted the award she said she did
so on behalf of the Powell River Coalition for Safe
Food which includes the Powell River chapter of the
Council of Canadians, the Powell River Farmers' Institute,
the Powell River and District Agricultural Association,
Small Planet Whole Foods, the Sierra Club, local farmers
and other individuals.
Regional district directors declared the Powell River
area as a GE free crop zone on June 24. Being a GE free
crop zone means the area is free of propagating, cultivating
or raising genetically engineered organisms by people,
firms or corporations.
The month before Powell River was declared a GE free
crop zone, Percy Schmeiser visited the area to talk
about his fight with Monsanto and how genetically engineered
crops are affecting Saskatchewan farmers. He is credited
with being instrumental in creating awareness about
As a result of Powell River's success a national campaign
has been launched to raise awareness about GE issues,
said Bellian. Powell River will also support other agricultural
communities and areas to become GE free, she said, noting
that other communities will look to Powell River for
advice and information on how to proceed in this area.
New local enterprises including seed companies and
permaculture (sustainable organic gardening and farming)
have sprung up and are offering workshops and training
Future plans for Powell River include a new community
garden with a training component as part of the Open
Air Market. As well, Powell River's local seed exchange
has had an increase in membership this year.
At the fall fair in September, hundreds of people stopped
by the Powell River Farmers' Institute booth looking
for information on seed saving, said Bellian. "And
at least 1,200 pamphlets were given out on GE free information."