Latest in Films for Change series examines genetic engineering

James Gordon of the TRU Sustainability Office welcomes Steven Hurst and Anne Grube of the GE Free Kamloops Society. (Peter Navratil./ Submitted)

James Gordon of the TRU Sustainability Office welcomes Steven
Hurst and Anne Grube of the GE Free Kamloops Society. (Peter
Navratil./ Submitted)

The last film in the TRU Films for Change film series before Christmas was shown last Wednesday at the TRU Clock Tower. The film this month was hosted by GE Free Kamloops, a group focused on raising awareness of the negative effects of genetic engineering.

More than 40 people came to the event and were treated to organic snacks, a few short films and a feature film directed by Bertram Verhaag called “Unnatural Selection.” The film gave a look into the use of Genetically Engineered food products and their effect on farmers. Steven Hurst of the GE Free Society says the group holds a number of events and meetings throughout the year.

“We want to show these films so the general public has a better understanding of genetic engineering in food and how they can avoid it if they feel it is too risky for their family,” Hurst said.

Genetically Engineered (GE) crops are genetically altered to be resistant to herbicide, among other things. This means herbicide can be sprayed all over a crop and kill the weeds in the field, but not the crops themselves. The concept of changing genes has grown to include other life forms and other benefits.

Some genetically modified crops and animals have been developed further to grow faster and not be able to reproduce. Although seemingly helpful, genetic engineering has some vocal opponents.

“They’re engineering life like you would a machine… animals are not machines, and that is what is fundamentally wrong with genetic engineering, ” Hurst says.

Companies patent seeds that they have genetically engineered and sell these seeds to farmers. The film documented how these companies then sue farmers that are not authorized to use the patented seed when seeds from a neighboring crop blow across property lines and begin to germinate. These lawsuits were shown to destroy a farmer’s livelihood, family and life.

After the film, a discussion was held to see what people thought of it. Some people were very moved by what was shown and expressed they wanted to do something to avoid GE foods. A knowledgeable attendee of the event named Kevin Tyler suggested “the only way to counter it is by supporting organics.”

James Gordon of the TRU Sustainability Office which hosts the Films for Change Series said he thought the event went well. The next film will be shown on the last Wednesday in January.