License to Farm, released January 15, 2016, is a powerful documentary which exposes the truths behind GMO use in Canada and throughout the Western world. Developed and funded by the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, Growing Froward 2, The Government of Saskatchewan and The Government of Canada, License to Farm helps farmers in the prairie provinces start to develop dialogue about the use and advancement of GM crops for human and animal consumption.
The rhetoric surrounding the use of GM technology is confusing. It seems like every other consumer is against their use, but when they’re asked, they really aren’t sure what GMO even means or how they differ from conventional crops. As evidenced by this video, which aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2014, people first need a strict education on just what a GMO is, before farmers can go any further:
Consumers need, and Canadian consumers want, to hear the truth about GMO crops. The fear mongering and conspiracy theories surrounding their use have grown tiresome to people who know how GMO’s are used and what they can and are doing for production agriculture.
The real threat in the push against GMO crops is not in the fact that some people will believe the activist fear mongering. The real threat is that activists may begin to influence North American policy on GMO use, much as they have in the European Union. It is currently illegal to grow or sell GMO crops or by products in Europe, regardless of their proven safety or origin. This means that thousands upon thousands of acres of useful, productive soil in Europe is significantly less efficient than it could be. European farmers must use more herbicide, they must treat crops more often, and they will consistently see a lower yield, despite the increase in labour and chemical, than their cousins in North America. Allowing the rhetoric against GMO production to continue unabated in North America is extremely dangerous.
To further this point, take Golden Rice: A regular, white rice has been given a gene which allows it to produce essential levels of vitamin A, which is extremely deficient in third world, rice-based diets. It was hailed as a life-saving crop which would help protect individuals from blindness and disease linked to vitamin A deficiency. However, because of activist involvement, Golden Rice has never entered the market, and tens of thousands of people in Asian and African countries continue to suffer from vitamin A deficiencies.
Most recently, genetically modified organisms made news because a new strain of salmon has been developed for farming. The new salmon, dubbed a “FrankenFish” by fear-mongerers, grows twice as fast as traditional farmed salmon, without the addition of hormones or chemicals to their feed. There is nothing scary about a faster-growing fish, especially in the face of over-fishing natural stock in poorly managed global fisheries. One would think that allowing something to be made more efficient would be a popular idea, but a lack of understanding and education has created a fear in consumers.
I would encourage everyone to watch License to Farm. Whether you’re a farmer or a consumer, you have a stake in ensuring the safety and future productivity of farming. Canadians, you have seen food prices rise 10% over the same time in 2015! GMO crops produce more with less input, and the potential to improve and develop new crops is enormous. The documentary is free to watch on Youtube or on the official License to Farm website: licensetofarm.com. Watch it, share it, and get involved in the fight to keep your license to farm.