Dr. Thierry Vrain will be giving a presentation regarding genetically engineered foods and human health on November 16.
Dr. Vrain moved to Canada from France when he was 25 and went on to get a PhD in Plant Pathology. He went on to work for Agriculture Canada for 30 years—until retiring in 2002.
Dr. Vrain said this tour is not about speaking against genetic engineering, but rather the bursting of the “North American bubble.”
The last six years of Dr. Vrain’s career was spent in the Okanagan, where he publically spoke to reassure people that genetic engineering of foods was safe.
After retiring, Dr. Vrain settled in Comox, where he bought a farm, started gardening, and became an organic gardener.
The general belief was “organic was a cult,” said Dr. Vrain. He stumbled across some scientific documents that explained organic gardening and genetic engineering in a way that he could understand.
Dr. Vrain said he was never taught that synthetic fertilizers were, or even could be, bad.
While working in his own garden, Dr. Vrain started documenting himself and found that what he had been reading about organic gardening was making a lot of sense.
Dr. Vrain said one of the big myths is that genetic engineering is making it possible for higher yields in crops. He said this is not true, and in some cases it is the exact opposite.
The corporations and industrial farmers are saying everything is fine despite the discrepancy in the soil quality between industrial and organic.
Dr. Vrain said there is a food safety aspect to genetic engineering that people need to be informed of. There are multiple studies showing there is something wrong with the food being produced. He said the people who try to bring this information forward are labeled as activists, or spreading mis-information.
The big argument that comes up is that without genetic engineering “we can’t feed everyone.” Dr. Vrain said that is not the case. The problem, said Dr. Vrain, is the big corporations that used to be in the chemical industry are now in the bio-technology industry.
Dr. Vrain said over 90 per cent of all engineered plants are made to resist herbicide. This allows for a greater sale of Round Up. By engineering plants to resist herbicides, the big corporations are able to sell more pesticides and have them used more.
Dr. Vrain said the industry will keep speaking postiviely about pesticides because they are making a huge profit from selling a chemical.
In 1996, said Dr. Vrain, the technology came and was great for farmers and weed control. Now, he said, it is the reason that any products in your local grocery store that contain corn, soy, canola, or others, contain noxious chemicals.
Dr. Vrain said what the industry is doing is “irresponsible and dangerous.” His goal is to raise the alarm and have people become more conscious and aware of what they are eating.
As far as what people can do individually, Dr. Vrain said the first step is to switch to organic food. Although it is more expensive, it is better for you. He said “you need to make a sacrifice” to be able to afford better food. Being organic is a choice people need to make.
Documenting yourself and reading material is the best way to truly understand the difference, said Dr. Vrain.
Dr. Thierry Vrain can be seen across Canada starting November 14. He will be at VIU on November 16 in building 356 in room 109 at 1pm.
You can follow Dr. Vrain on Facebook.