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sexta-feira, junho 15, 2007

Genetically modified food: No more secrets

Do: New Democratic Party, 12 June 2007

People want to know what's in their food, says NDP MP

OTTAWA - Alex Atamanenko (BC Southern Interior) tabled a private member's bill today that will bring transparency to the use of genetically modified foods. His bill will require the mandatory labelling of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food.

"Year after year the results of public opinion polls overwhelmingly demonstrate that over 80% of Canadians want products containing genetically modified organisms to be labelled," said the NDP Agriculture Critic. "People should have the right to make informed choices about the food they purchase to feed their families.

In April 2004 the Canadian government adopted a standard of voluntary labelling, claiming to have confidence that companies would voluntarily label GM food products in response to consumer demand.

"I would point out to the government that after three years of voluntary labelling there is yet to be a single label indicating the presence of genetically modified organisms,' said Atamanenko.

According to Atamanenko, the government and their partners in the Biotech industry have long claimed it would be far too expensive to implement such a labelling system, pegging the cost to Quebec alone at $150 - $200 million. A recent study commissioned by Quebec's Department of Agriculture estimates that in Quebec the cost would be $28 million per year for industry and $1.7 million for the Quebec government. "Considering that the people of Quebec spent $28B in food expenditures, a labelling cost of approximately 0.1 percent of that amount seems very reasonable," said Atamanenko. It is estimated that up to 70% of processed foods sitting on grocery store shelves may contain GMOs.

Over 40 other countries require mandatory labelling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) including the European Union, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. In these countries there was no impact on consumers when labelling requirements were implemented because businesses adopted innovations in management and marketing to absorb the supplemental costs. "Why is it that we can offer documentation for non-GMO products we export into countries that don't allow these products, but we can't offer the same to Canadian consumers?" demanded Atamanenko.

The NDP Agriculture Critic was joined by Eric Darier from Greenpeace.