In response to your article published on Friday, April 15 and your editorial in the April 20 publication regarding the Yukon Agricultural Association and its official position on Genetically Modified Organisms, I would like to make a few things very clear.
I am an individual who sits on the board for the association and was present at the meeting where Barb Drury made her presentation on GMOs.
The events that actually occurred differ greatly from those being spoken of in your paper. As a board comprised of individuals who largely agree that the unknown ramifications of GMOs are unsettling, we stated that, as a board of directors, it would potentially alienate part of our membership if we began voting for or against farming practices and that would be counterintuitive to our overall mandate of promoting agriculture as a whole in the Yukon.
We were both polite and respectful to Barb throughout the duration of her presentation, we just refused to make a vote then and there (as per her request) to ban GMOs in the Yukon. Which, given any modicum of thought, is reasonable, especially given that her presentation is merely one facet of a very complex issue.
Her presentation appealed to our human sensibilities but as a board we have to make decisions that benefit our entire organization, not those of one passionate and deeply committed member. Those of us on the board who were in attendance at the meeting in question agreed to open dialogue among the membership and to create a campaign that would allow producers to claim that their products were “GMO free,” which we, the board, were confident would satisfy some of Barb’s concerns.
This action of creating the labeling campaign would demonstrate the agricultural association’s position of educating consumers and allowing them to make informed decisions, which is more than we can say of a typical shopping experience at major grocery stores.
Our organization has been accused of being “anti-organics” and “cowardly” in our decision-making when in fact very much the opposite is true. We are pro-agriculture which, by default makes us pro-organics. In fact, we have members of GOOFY (Growers of Organic Foods Yukon) on our board, so what of that?
These very directors were in attendance at the meeting previously mentioned and voted in favour of a “GMO Free” labelling campaign and agreed that making a decision (to ban GMOs) would be premature and couldn’t be done without information from all sides of the issue.
We dealt with this matter head-on and instead of flying off the handle making an emotionally charged, fear-based decision, or burying our heads in the sand as your publication so insultingly indicated, we simply asked for more information and time to give it the attention such a big topic deserved.
I fail to see the cowardliness in that. The board responded to the presentation wanting a greater understanding of all sides of the matter so that we could best represent our membership as a whole.
Isn’t that what boards of directors do? After all, it’s our entire membership we’re accountable to when we make decisions. I doubt any of them would want us making decisions that could affect them with only a fraction of the information.