The City of Duncan Goes GE Free!

Residents of the Cowichan Region should applaud the Duncan City Council for becoming the first municipality in Canada to draft and adopt a Genetically Engineered (GE) Free purchasing policy for its public works and catering services.

An action item of the City’s March 2013 draft “Integrated Community Sustainability Plan,” the City has chosen to uphold the precautionary principle. Recognizing that there is a lack of consensus on the safety of GE crops and animals (ie. those whose DNA has been altered, typically through the introduction of a gene from one species), the City has agreed to abstain from purchasing GE foods, plants, and seeds where possible.

The Policy states that:

The City of Duncan opposes the cultivation of genetically engineered plants and trees in the City of Duncan, and will apply the precautionary principle by undertaking the following actions:

a. The City of Duncan will abstain from purchasing genetically engineered plants, trees and seeds to grow within the City.

b. The City of Duncan will refrain from purchasing genetically engineered foods for City events, where reasonable. Genetically engineered foods may include non-organic soya, canola, corn, sugars derived from sugar beets, papaya, imported dairy, squash, and fish products

While not all Duncan Councillors agree with the policy as adopted on May 20, 2014, as concerns regarding a possible burden on staff and increased catering costs were raised, CGC feels that this is a step in the right direction in ensuring a more food secure Cowichan. It is inspiring to see local government take actionable steps to addressing community concerns over GE foods, plants, and seeds. Taking over a year to draft and conducted in consultation with the Cowichan Green Community and the Society for a GE Free BC, the City has set a precedent that other Canadian municipalities can look up to.