Codex meeting in Calgary could suspend work on GM food labeling
May 5, 2009, Ottawa – Today in Calgary, as the international meeting of the UN Codex Alimentarius negotiates the future of labeling genetically modified (GM) foods, the Québec Network Against GMOs (RQcOGM) and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) denounce the delaying tactics of the Canadian and US government delegations.
The two networks are afraid that the U.S. government will ask Codex to suspend its work on GM food labeling, and are asking the Canadian government not to support this U.S. position.
“The Canadian government position on labeling GM foods clearly does not represent public opinion in Canada,” said Charles Tanguay, spokesperson for the Consumers Union (Union des Consommateurs) in Québec and representative for the Québec Network Against GMOs, “All surveys show that Canadians are squarely and consistently in favour of mandatory labeling for GM foods and food ingredients,”
The Codex Alimentarius, recognized under the World Trade Organization, is the international authority for standardizing food labeling and works under the auspices of the United Nations. Codex does not have the authority to impose mandatory labeling of GM food, but is tasked with developing guidelines that countries are to follow if they establish labeling.
“International guidelines for GM food labeling would protect countries from having their labeling schemes attacked by Canada and other countries as trade barriers under the World Trade Organization,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. “If Codex agrees on guidelines, the Canadian government will also have fewer excuses when they continue to ignore the public’s demand for mandatory labeling of GM foods,”
Codex first started its work on guidelines for labeling genetically modified foods fifteen years ago. The US and Canada, 2 of the top 5 countries growing GM foods, have systematically obstructed the negotiations. The US is now arguing that there is no difference between GM and non-GM foods and that essentially GM food does not exist.
“The Canadian government needs to stop blindly following the US position and follow the will of consumers instead,” said Éric Darier, Director of Greenpeace Québec and Coordinator of Greenpeace Canada’s Agriculture Campaign.
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext.5; Charles Tanguay, Union des Consommateurs 514 743-0419; Éric Darier, Greenpeace 514-605-6497