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Last week, while listening to BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth show, I heard some great news for those of us who have always believed that organically grown produce is healthier.

Patrick Holden, the director of The Soil Association, a European group which campaigns in favor of organic farming, announced that researchers now have evidence that organically-grown food is healthier than conventionally grown produce.

Holden said " intensive farming is devitalizing our food", while organic crops have been shown to have higher levels of vitamins and on the whole contain more nutrients, more secondary metabolites than conventionally grown plants. Secondary metabolites are substances which form part of the plants’ immune system, and which help to fight cancer in those who consume them.

With the World Heath Organization estimating that every year, globally, between 3.5 and 5 million people suffer acute pesticide poisoning, it was concluded that whatever the benefits were to the individual, organic farming is almost certainly an overall asset to society.

Many old timers remember the word Victory Garden, maybe it’s time we re-employ the old war time motto ‘a garden in every back yard’ and for those living in apartments we could organize more community garden spaces, giving everyone who want to, a chance to grow healthy chemical free food.

The big question on all our minds, is ‘how safe is the food we can not grow ourselves?’ Most backyard gardens are limited on size and the amount of food they produce over our short summer. I do not believe anyone, except for farmers, grows their own grain supply. So even the organic gardener at some point is dependent on others to supply a percentage of his food.

As delegates from some 130 countries arrived in Montreal to resume negotiations that fell apart last February in Cartagena, Colombia, nearly 1,000 protesters braved freezing cold temperatures chanting "Life before profits", waving placards reading "We will not be guinea pigs."

Sponsored by the U.N. Environmental Program, begun in 1995, this meeting is considered the final step to drawing up international standards to regulate the trade of genetically modified pharmaceuticals, food and other products.

The Colombian meeting collapsed last year when the United States, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Canada and Australia blocked a draft accepted by 125 other countries that required exporters of genetically modified corn, soybeans and other crops to obtain advance permission from the importing country.

For months Biotech companies across Europe have been giving the impression that North American citizens have concluded public debates on the production, and distribution of genetically engineered foods and that they have decided that they are safe and desirable.

Europeans and Asians are shocked to learn that while their farmers and consumers have been actively fighting GM foods at every level, most of our population was unaware of how quickly the biotech industry was introducing new and potentially threatening products into the food chain.

When Public Relations Chief of the European biotech company Novartis Seeds, Arthur Einsele, heard that North American consumers have waited till now to hold public debate on genetically engineered foods, he asked "What’s happening in your country? We thought you already had this debate. But I guess we were wrong."

The truth is that individuals, environmental and consumer groups opposed to bio-engineered foods never had a chance to voice their objections to the U.S Food and Drug Administration until late last fall, when the FDA held open hearings on biotech foods in Chicago, Washington and Oakland California.

During the last few months, word of the GMO invasion has been spreading across this continent, and those of us who do not wish to be guinea pigs are teaming together to protect our democratic right to know what is in the food we eat. You don’t have to dress up like a vegetable and stand out in freezing temperatures to be heard, just get your name on the petition.

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