Metchosin bans genetically modified growing

Organic farmer supports GMO ban to protect his historic produce

  • Nov. 30, 2012 7:00 a.m.

Metchosin farmer Dieter Eisenhawer is pleased the carrot seeds harvested last year will be protected with a new ban on growing genetically modified organisms in Metchosin.

Fermenting seeds covered in goo that once resembled ripe tomatoes and firm cucumbers sit on the window sill of Dieter Eisenhawer’s Metchosin farm house.

For more than two decades Eisenhawer has been growing up to 40 different organic fruits and vegetables on his two-acre farm on Happy Valley Road. At the end of each season, Eisenhawer starts his seed saving process that varies between vegetables including fermenting and drying processes.

No matter how hard Eisenhawer works to keep his organic farm wholesome and true to its name, anyone growing genetically modified organisms nearby could taint his organic legacy.

On Monday, the District of Metchosin banned the growing of all GM0s, causing Eisenhawer to sigh in relief.

“This is largely a symbolic measure,” said Coun. Moralea Milne. “We are not going to check seeds or plants.”

The motion passed bans all GMO plants included vegetables, fruits and herbs in the district. It stemmed from an agricultural advisory committee recommendation.

The only councillor who did not support the motion was Larry Tremblay.

“I don’t think that we can enforce it because of cross-pollenation. There are too many small properties to have a truly organic farm,” Tremblay said. “I am concerned of the liability.”

If a certified organic farm is cross-pollentated with neighbouring GMO pollen, the certified organic farm would lose its status.

“If you are growing a heritage seed and your neighbour has GMO produce that spreads pollen to your seeds, then your seeds are totally unusable for heritage seeds,” Eisenhawer explains.

He has been saving seeds from the same cucumbers for nearly 20 years.

If GMO pollen lands on organic produce and produces new fruit, Eisenhawer said it would be hard to know if the new fruit was genetically modified.

“You would only know if you searched the genetic makeup,” Eisenhawer said, adding 98 per cent of all the seeds planted on his farm are harvested from his previous crops.

His farm was certified organic in 1990 and Eisenhawer calls himself a pioneer of organic farming. He also helped found the Island Organic Producers Association.

 

The paperwork and licensing fees became too much for Eisenhawer so he stopped certifying in 2006 but continues to grow organic produce.

 

 

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