Bill to Label Genetically Engineered Foods: Will MPs vote for Monsanto or Canadians?

Press release - April 2, 2008
Today the House of Commons will debate a Private Member’s Bill (C-517) proposed by Gilles-André Perron, Bloc Québécois MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. If adopted, this bill will legislate the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods (also called genetically modified or GM). More than 40 countries across the world already have adopted labeling laws including Europe, Russia and China.

"We have a fundamental right to know what foods are genetically engineered," said Tony Beck of the grassroots coalition GE Free BC. The Federal government has refused to establish mandatory labeling despite years of polls that show 79% to 90% of Canadians and Québécois want these labels. "Our government has tried everything to keep Canadian consumers from having the ability to chose non-GE foods," said Beck.

A Canadian standard for voluntary labeling of GE foods was released in 2003. "Of course no companies have ever voluntarily labeled their foods as containing GE ingredients," said Sharon Labchuk of the P.E.I. Coalition for a GMO-Free Province, "It is only mandatory labeling that will give consumers choice in the grocery store."

"Without mandatory labeling, Canadians have no tools to track potential health effects from consuming GE foods," said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, "Canada hosted an international conference on post-market surveillance which would have set up a system to track GE foods and their health impacts, but the government abandoned this project when it became clear that mandatory labeling would also be required."

More independent scientific studies are raising health concerns about GE foods. 216 contamination events with have been recorded raising additional questions about health risks of GE food and GE crops in our environment. GE soy, canola and corn are grown in Canada and end up as ingredients in most processed foods that Canadians eat. "This Private Members Bill is an outstanding chance for our Members of Parliament to listen to consumers and support democracy and choice for consumers," said Josh Brandon, Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada.

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For more information:

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network 613 241 2267;

Jessica Wilson, Communications, Greenpeace Vancouver cell (778) 228-5404;

Tony Beck, GE Free BC, (cell) 604 671 2106 or 604 671 2106;

Sharon Labchuk, PEI Coalition for a GMO Free Province (cell) 902 940 1262 or 905 621 0719.

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