Ottawa, May 17, 2017 – Public interest groups the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and Vigilance OGM, are expressing profound disappointment that Members of Parliament voted down Private Member’s Bill C-291 for mandatory labelling of genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) foods.
Polls over twenty years consistently show that over 75 percent of Canadians want GM foods labelled. Health Canada’s 2016 survey put this number at 78 percent.(1)
“Transparency and traceability are missing in Canada when it comes to GM foods,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. “The continued lack of mandatory labelling is an untenable situation for consumers.”
The federal government does not track what GM foods are on the market. In the absence of mandatory labelling, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and Vigilance OGM are providing information to the public about which GM foods are in Canadian grocery stores.
“Canadians want to know where GM foods are in their grocery stores but without mandatory labelling, consumers are left to fend for themselves,” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec network Vigilance OGM. “We’re stepping up to provide information where the government and industry fails.”
In the absence of labelling, the groups are calling on major retailers to pledge not to sell the newly approved GM fish, GM apple and GM potato.
“At this point, retailers should make it easy and clear for their customers by keeping GM fish, and GM fruits and vegetables out of stores,” said Sharratt.
The world’s first GM food animal – a GM Atlantic salmon – could be sold in Canada as early as 2018. A GM apple and GM potato have also recently been approved in Canada, but are not yet on the food market in Canada.
“Canada is lagging behind the rest of the world,“ said Rehn. “We now call on the Quebec government to step in and establish mandatory labelling.”
64 countries around the world have mandatory labelling of GM foods.
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 809 1103; Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM, 514 582 1674.
NOTES: (1) A summary of relevant poll results over twenty years in Canada is posted at www.cban.ca/labellingpolls