A Delta greenhouse has become one of only three in the province to certify that its products are not genetically modified.
David Bell, chief marketing officer with Ladner-based Houweling's Tomatoes, said the company pursued the certification after much discussion began around whether or not the tomatoes were grown from genetically modified seeds.
Bell said one customer said the tomatoes looked "too perfect" and asked point blank if they were genetically modified.
"There's a lot of consumer questions out there," he said, adding that getting the certification was a "means to address consumer concerns."
Bell said that there are not currently any GMO tomato seeds available commercially and Houweling's has never grown a GMO product.
"It doesn't go along with our philosophy."
The greenhouse is the third producer in the province to certify that its products are free of genetically modified organisms through the Non-GMO Project, and the first to complete the process.
The Non-GMO Project is an independent product verification program. It was started by a consortium of natural food retailers in Canada and the U.S., which includes Richmond-based Nature's Path, Whole Foods and Big Carrot Natural Food Market in Toronto.
Delta councillor, and farmer, Ian Paton said that in Canada, the only GMO products currently grown are soy, canola and corn used for cattle feed not human consumption.
Cattle corn, he added, is the only possible GMO crop grown in Delta. The DNA of the seed has been altered to be resistant to a certain type of pesticide allowing farmers a larger yield from a crop.
"The general consensus I get from bona fide farmers in Delta is that it's not a big deal," he said. "I certainly don't have a problem with it."
He said genetic engineering can be a benefit to farmers and there is "no evidence that it has any negative effect of human consumption."
Last month, Richmond city council passed a resolution opposing the cultivation of genetically engineered plants and trees in the municipality. Three existing cattle corn crops were exempted from the bylaw.
The municipality enacted the legislation after being approached by the antiGMO group GE Free B.C. and members of the Richmond Food Security Society.
However, Richmond cannot legally enforce the bylaw because genetically engineered crops are federally regulated.
Mayor Lois Jackson said Delta is not currently looking at taking any similar actions.
"It is a very small dot on the radar," she said. "We've been busy off doing other things."
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