Maya Fischer, age 9, believes Canada’s Girl Guide motto, which she can recite from memory: I promise to do my best, to be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada; I will take action for a better world.
Now the British Columbia resident is asking the Girl Guides of Canada to follow that motto by removing GMOs from Guide Guide cookies — and as of yesterday her petition on Change.org had over 26,500 signatures.
“I care about what my community and friends eat, and the Girl Guides of Canada teaches us to take action for a better world, so that’s what I’m doing,” says Fischer, who has been a part of the organization for four years, first as a Spark, then Brownie, then Guide. Since discovering her favourite cookies contained GMOs, Fischer and her family have stopped eating them and have vowed to stop selling the products until Girl Guides address the issue.
“People are unaware that 90 per cent of all corn, soy, canola, beet sugar and cotton seed oils are made with GMOs,” says Linda Cirella, Fischer’s mother and a leader in her troop. “And what Maya is asking for is not that much — they could trade canola oil for sunflower oil, soy lecithin for sunflower lecithin and corn starch for tapioca or potato starch.”
Fischer and Cirella have contacted the B.C. Council Girl Guides of Canada, who, upon hearing about the petition have notified Cirella that, as a guide leader, she may be acting in a way that contravenes the guiding law. Cirella says no official action has been taken yet, but every guide is expected to sell at least two boxes of cookies each year, and the mother and daughter have made their intent not to sell clear.
“We’re really not sure if we’ll be met with higher fees for not selling cookies, or kicked out for the petition or what, but this is an important issue and the signatures are showing that,” says Cirella. “The fact that they are telling us to ‘stop’ and take down the petition is telling, too.”
GMOs have been the source of much public debate regarding their necessity and safety. In Canada, companies are not required to label products that contain GMOs, but in Europe there are regulations requiring such labels.
Girl Guides Canada’s B.C. Council told CBC News that switching to organic ingredients for their cookies is financially unrealistic because it would mean a higher price for the buyer of the box. They have not addressed the labeling challenge… smarten up, Girl Guides!