Tuesday, November 12, 2013, Ottawa – The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and the Society for a GE-Free BC launched a new campaign today to stop the genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) apple, as local groups across BC and Alberta begin a series of 32 events to raise awareness about GM foods and the GM apple in particular.
On Friday, the U.S. government took one more step towards approving the GM “non-browning” apple. On November 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture invited the public to comment on a draft environmental assessment of the GM apple. The GM apple is also being reviewed by the Canadian government but the process in Canada will not involve any similar public consultations, and the Canadian government will not release any environmental assessments or other documents before it makes its final decision.
“Our government is wasting public money assessing the safety of a product that’s widely opposed by growers and consumers,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. “The company is pressing ahead with the GM apple even though it’s set to harm the market for apples. The government and the company need to be held accountable to the public.”
Sixty-nine percent of Canadians said they do not want the GM apple approved (1). The BC Fruit Growers’ Association is also opposed to the release of the GM apple. Many growers fear that the widely held negative public perception of the GM apple will lead to a decline in apple sales generally, and organic growers are concerned about GM contamination (organics prohibits GM). On November 7, Friends of the Earth U.S. released statements from McDonalds and Gerber, saying they do not plan to use the GM apple (2).
This week, on Thursday November 14, the Society for a GE Free BC, Vancouver Greenpeace volunteers, and local organizers from across BC and Alberta begin a 32-event speakers tour, through November and December, to raise awareness and questions about GM foods. The tour features former Agriculture Canada researcher Thierry Vrain and former Health Canada scientific evaluator Shiv Chopra (3).
The GM “non-browning” apple was developed by the small BC company Okanagan Specialty Fruits, based on Australian technology. The company calls it the “Arctic Apple” and claims that it will not brown after being cut, for 15 days or more.
“The GM apple could damage the apple’s reputation as a wholesome, natural food,” said Tony Beck of GE Free BC. “Apples are one of the most popular fruits, but will parents want to give their children a genetically modified apple?”
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext 25; Tony Beck, Society for a GE Free BC, 250 538 8320.
(1) Arctic Apple Issue, Canadian Public Opinion Poll, Leger Marketing, Commissioned by the BC Fruit Growers Association and Quebec Apple Producers Association, July 3, 2012. http://www.bcfga.com/files/file/Report%20on%20GE%20survey%20-%20July%203%202012.pdf
(2) “McDonald’s, Gerber say no to GMO apple”, Friends of the Earth U.S., Press Release, November 7, 2013
(3) The tour of events is called “Genetic Engineering and Human Health”. The list of events is posted at http://gefreebc.wordpress.com/gefoodstour/