An MP has tabled a new bill calling for mandatory labeling of genetically modified food, following steps taken by lawmakers south of the border. New Democrat Pierre-Luc Dusseault introduced Bill C-291 yesterday.
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He is not the first MP to put forth such a bill. Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and past NDP MPs have unsuccessfully attempted to pass similar bills.
“But I think there’s a particular momentum going on at this point. Canadian consumers want to see labelling,” said Taarini Chopra, co-ordinator at the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, a collection of organizations concerned about GM food.
The tabling of Bill C-291 comes two weeks ahead of when Vermont’s mandatory labelling law is set to take effect. Starting July 1, Vermont law will require many companies using GM crops to disclose that information on labels.
“This movement that we’ve seen in Vermont is here in Canada too, and there’s a similar push from Canadian consumers,” Chopra said.
A news release issued by the NDP noted that for 10 years, surveys have shown that nearly 90 percent of Canadians support the labelling of GM food. Campbell Soup Co., General Mills and Kellogg’s, among others, have introduced GM-labelling on US products ahead of July 1.
Rob Saik, chief executive officer of Agri-Trend, a farm management and consulting firm, said this is a preventive measure from big companies because they haven’t seen a definitive rejection of labelling movements in the United States. Saik expects the labelling requirements to have a U.S.-wide impact because it’s difficult to manufacture individual products for consumption solely in Vermont.
“You can’t just instantly start slapping on GMO stickers to sell into Vermont,” he said. “This state that has something like half a million people in it is starting to cause major issues in the United States,” he added.
Saik said anti-GMO activism has given biotechnology negative connotations and called mandatory labelling fear-generated because research shows GM food is safe to eat.
“It will generally result in the public not buying because of the GMO label,” Saik said.
Recent research from the National Academy of Sciences has determined that GMOs are fit for human consumption. The multi-year report pointed out that GMO critics are concerned about possible adverse effects on human health, the environment and ethical considerations.
GM crops have been in the market for about 20 years — having been introduced commercially in the 1990s — which Chopra said isn’t long enough to fully measure cause-and-effect. Canada’s current regulations do not require any GM labelling and assess each crop based on its merits, reviewing new crops or phenotypes on a novel-trait basis.
Source Commodity News Service Canada, Jade Markus
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