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St. John's and food sovereignty

Posted Oct. 27, 2011 / Posted by: Eric Hoffman

 

The past four days touring Atlantic Canada have been a whirlwind!

Tonight we hosted our fourth and last public forum in St. John’s. This city is the birthplace of AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon, as it was a professor at a local university who first invented the technology. We had more than 80 people in attendance, and the audience was really active during the Q&A time.

One concern that has come up every night in all four cities of our tour is the need for genetically engineered salmon to feed a growing and hungry population (it’s reported that the world’s seven billionth person is being born on October 31). This question is not a new or unjustified one.  The biotechnology industry has been promising for more than three decades that genetic engineering will feed the world. Unfortunately, the reality is that genetically engineered crops have failed to increase yields on almost every count.

It’s a very tempting idea, though – to think that we can solve the problems of hunger and sustainable food production through technology and innovation. But we also know that there is more than enough food produced daily to feed every living person. Yet nearly 925 million people go to bed hungry every night. So what gives?

The real problem isn’t a lack of food; it’s unfair distribution and an unjust food system that values profits over people. To solve hunger and feed a growing population, we need to support organic and agro-ecological farming practices, bring back threatened fisheries, and support family farmers and fishing communities.  We must promote food sovereignty, the right of people to determine and control their own food production systems, and the right to enough nutritious, ecologically produced and culturally appropriate food.

Our friends at Food & Water Watch released a great fact sheet last year on why genetically engineered salmon won’t feed the world. In short, the frankenfish will require more inputs (such as more food to keep them growing). Feeding these salmon will only continue to drain the oceans of wild salmon, and, as we’ve learned from genetically engineered crops, the only real benefactors are the biotech companies – in this case AquaBounty. AquaBounty owns a patent on the frankenfish and will earn all the profits from producing and selling them to us.

Last night in Halifax, I learned about a great project called Off the Hook. It’s a “Community Supported Fishery,” a program in which people have a direct relationship with their fishermen, and the fishermen have a guaranteed market to sell their harvested fish for a living wage. Small scale, low-tech projects like this can, and will, allow us to make food sovereignty a healthy and eco-friendly reality. Watch the quick video below to find out more about Off the Hook!

Until next time,
Eric

Showdown Over Keeping the West Wild (Newsmagazine)

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