CHARLOTTETOWN. March 5, 2017
Growing concern over corporate marketing for a genetically modified (GM) apple in a March 7 webinar for high-school students has led groups to write a joint letter to provincial Ministers of Education, asking them to remove this product placement from the classroom. (1)
“Advertising masquerading as education is unacceptable,” said Leo Broderick, a former high school teacher and administrator, and Vice-Chair of the Council of Canadians.
Executive Director of “Agriculture in the Classroom” Johanne Ross’s comments reported in a CBC article Friday, March 3, (2) after the groups initially raised concerns to the press, denied that the focus of the lesson was on GM food or the Arctic Apple. However, the civil society groups – the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Kids Right to Know, the Council of Canadians, and Earth Action PEI – assert there is no misunderstanding of the content. They have sent a letter to Ministers asking them to withdraw their support for the webinar, and to communicate with “Agriculture in the Classroom” that product placement in schools is not acceptable.
The webinar “Trashing Food Waste with Technology” includes:
- The only speaker Jessica Brady, who is on the marketing and communications team of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the Arctic Apple company;
- A pre-webinar lesson plan (3) which calls for students to spend time on the company’s website and for teachers to “Inform students that the Arctic Apple is an example of a genetically modified food that is available to eat! Explore the website to learn more about Arctic Apples – this will be the focus of the live stream event you and your class will be watching.” (4)
“How are we supposed to accept the information in the webinar as unbiased when it’s coming from a company that wants to sell us their product?” said Ontario high-school student Rachel Parent, who is also the founder of Kids Right to Know which advocates for mandatory labelling of GM foods, “There’s no alternative point of view being offered to students. This isn’t education, its propaganda.”
For more information: Leo Broderick, Council of Canadians, 902 894 4874, Rachel Parent, Kids Right to Know, 416 554 5302; Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 809 1103.
(1) The letter to Ministers of Education can be found at www.cban.ca/apple
(2) Laura Chapin, Canadian environment groups want webinar pulled from classrooms over GMO foods, CBC, Mar 03, 2017 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-gmo-webinar-council-of-canadians-1.4009043
(3) The webinar advertisement and Live Webinar Pre-Activity can be seen here http://www.aitc.ca/bc/news/119/56/Canadian-Agriculture-Literacy-Month For archived materials relating to this webinar please see www.cban.ca/apple or contact Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
(4) While the GM apple is approved for sale and will be test-marketed in the US this year, it is not currently “available to eat” in Canada. For details see www.cban.ca/apple