News in brief

GMO labeling bill defeated in Canadian parliament

Picture: iStockphoto-chombosan

Members of the Canadian Parliament voted against approving mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods in a vote in the House of Commons yesterday. 

The private members bill C-291 – introduced by Pierre-Luc Dusseault, the NDP (New Democratic Party) MP for Sherbrooke, Québec - was defeated by a significant margin, with 67 yeas, and 216 nays.

It specified only that the Food and Drugs Act be amended such that “No person shall sell any food that is genetically modified unless its label contains information … to prevent the purchaser or the consumer of the food from being deceived or misled in respect of its composition.”

However, the term ‘genetically modified’ was not defined in the bill, which generated a lot of discussion during the second reading, with opponents arguing that the wording was too vague and supporters arguing that such vagary provided important ‘latitude.’

The debate in Canada follows the passage of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law in the US, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2016.

  • Read more about the US federal GMO labeling law HERE.
  • Read more about bill C-291 HERE.
  • Read the arguments made by Canadian MPs for and against bill C-291 HERE.

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Comments (4)

Sal DeVita - 20 May 2017 | 02:21

Corrupt to the Core

I recommend reading, "Corrupt to the Core" by Shiv Chopra. The gist of the story, about six years ago Mr. Chopra, a research scientist who worked for Health Canada was released from employment when he showed reasonable concerns of efficacy and safety of a new drug called Bovine Growth Hormone. It was to be used as an injection into cattle... Health Canada acted in a manner to speed up the process of test and pass...but Mr. Chopra did not believe it was thoroughly tested so he delayed the passing of the new drug. Health Canada claimed he acted in a non-compliant manner so they fired him. Really! It was never stated but Mr. Chopra delayed the passing of a new type of drug that had legitimate concerns...but it was causing financial concerns for big businesses…they were losing money. For me, I will demand of myself to not purchase food products which have been genetically altered and/or are not labeled...who knows for sure what the long term effects are...and even when the Canadian government knows for a fact such as in the case of tobacco sales and cancer diseases, the health and safety of Canadians is not the decisive factor when it comes between more money for businesses or healthier Canadians...but rather the big business of sales governs what most politicians are supporting.

20-May-2017 at 02:21 GMT

Robert Wager - 19 May 2017 | 06:21

Breeding methods on food labels

In Canada we label food based on the actual content of the food (health and safety reasons). We do not label for breeding methods. GE is just one of several breeding methods used to create the food crops we consume. It has no baring on the nutritional content nor the allergen content. If ingredients from GE crops did affect either of these criteria then existing laws would already force specific labeling to warn the public. The so-called 'right to know" argument is also not a good reason to change our food labeling system from one based on sound science to one based on desires for information. If asked I am sure an overwhelming % of the public would like to know if ionizing radiation mutagenesis breeding was used on some of the food crops, or if DNA was in the food(actual polls find >80 % would like to know this) The reality is may breeding methods have n=been used on our food and have zero baring on the health or safety of the food. The DNA desire shows how ill-informed the public is as virtually every food we have ever eaten contains DNA so the label is meaningless. And finally it has been made very clear by the industry that is pushing for GMO specific food labels that such labels will be used to generate fear in the public about safe food in order to increase sales of alternative food products. Again a very poor reason to change the way we label food. As for the conspiracies, well not so much in the Great White North.

19-May-2017 at 18:21 GMT

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