by KRISTIAN PARTINGTON
Grain Farmers of Ontario’s chief spokesman says his organization is “quite pleased” a controversial bill that would have added another step into the approval process for genetically engineered seeds was defeated Wednesday in the House of Commons.
Up for its third and final reading, private member's bill C-474 called for “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted,” for use in Canada. Parliament rejected the motion with 178 members voting for it and 98 against.
Once governments bring “subjectivity into the registration process you get behind the game competitively with other countries,” said Barry Senft, Grain Farmers’ CEO.
Ontario growers are already satisfying markets for both genetically engineered and traditional products without having to resort to “an overall ban or bringing this uncertainty into the registration process,” he added. He pointed to identity preserved and non-GMO soybeans as an example of “a significant, program within Ontario that customers have the option” of utilizing.
In an email issued Wednesday by his press secretary, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz called the bill’s defeat, “good news for farmers,” and said it was critical “that our system remain based firmly in science.”
“Economics is a science as well and you have to make sure that if you introduce something into the market that people are going to be able to make money off it,” said NDP MP Alex Atamanenko, the bill's sponsor, following the vote.
Atamanenko noted he's had more than 13,000 letters and emails of support and various organizations across the country have come out in support of his bill.
“This debate has only just started,” he said. BF