February 2010

Genetically Modified agriculture

Proponents say that genetically modified agriculture has been around for thousands of years - and mention bread, beer and corn. Critics say but these technologies were not splicing genes from one species into another. And in any case, there are other issues to consider: the longterm risks and benefits. Who benefits? Who bears the risks? And how are the decisions made? The Biotechnology Reference Group of the Canadian Council of Churches recently held a symposium on this and other emerging technologies. These technologies are not going to go away.

20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from jail in South Africa

20 years ago I was executive director of the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa - IDAFSA (Canada). We were winding up an organization that had provided legal defence and humanitarian aid to the victims of apartheid in Southern Africa since the 1960s. Nelson Mandela had been released from prison! It was a privilege to have been part of this struggle in the 1970's and 1980s.

Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP)

CIELAP's 39th AGM was held on February 10 at the National Film Board in Toronto. I resigned as CIELAP;s Executive Director at the end of June 2009 and it was interesting being back at the AGM - this time as Senior Advisor, Sustainability. The organization is moving more firmly in the direction of policy research through a sustainability lens. New members were nominated to the Board of Directors and more resources are being put into the youth and interns program with an emphasis on social networking and working with students on university campuses.

Scrupling on the Erosion of Democracy in Canada

Scrupling is an old Quaker practice when faced with a difficult issue or problem early Quakers would sit with their friends and neighbours and scruple till they came to a way forward. Scrupling is not an argument, a debate or a panel discussion - but a serious conversation to seek a way forward. On February 7 50 Toronto Quakers scrupled the erosion of democracy in Canada with two sitting Members of Parliament.