Canadian plant biotech industry weighs in on GMO labelling bill

© AgMedia Inc.


Some information on labels has no nutrition, health or safety value - 'from concentrate' and 'not from concentrate' on juices does not denote a superior or inferior product (the nutritional DV% is substantially the same and both are pasteurized) A simple consumer preference that is required information.

Country of origin labeling does not imply that product from certain countries is preferable to product from other countries, it is primarily an ideological accommodation. Consumers may choose to support domestic business for many reasons unrelated to nutrition or safety - perhaps they are concerned about the carbon footprint of transporting foodstuffs great distances, they might not wish to support certain political systems or maybe they feel buying Canadian is better for the economy. There are international considerations as well - a consumer may choose to purchase almonds from Europe instead of California to avoid irradiation despite the irradiation of foodstuffs being considered safe by regulatory agencies. Not nutritional or safety concerns but still required to be clearly noted on the label.

Much of the information currently provided on labels is neutral, enabling consumers to choose according to their individual concerns. For example I use DV% of iron in order to accommodate an iron overload concern, other consumers may wish to purchase iron-rich products.
Why do the biotech companies and food manufacturers assume a disclosure of GM content will be construed as a warning? For proponents of the technology it is an opportunity to support what they perceive as a progressive, more sustainable form of agriculture; for opponents of the technology, it allows them to avoid what they may feel are negative socio-economic impacts of the technology, potentially harmful chemical inputs or a perceived corporatization of seed. Labeling can accommodate both ideologies and leave judgement up to the consumer. In a free market the customer is always right even if YOU think they are wrong.

It is not surprising that industry opposes labeling, it is surprising that the article presents their view uncritically. Health Canada and the CFIA conduct PAPER reviews of the studies that industry submits - they do not conduct their own. The statement that they conduct "complete regulatory reviews" is misleading. It may concern consumers that the research used to approve GM products comes solely from the very companies seeking that approval.

Also, "Those same foods are typically approved in 28 other countries for cultivation, about 40 have approved them for consumption and about 70 either trade them or feed them as animal feed" does not inform the reader that 38 countries BAN cultivation (with more implementing bans regularly); many ban cultivation AND importation (Russia, Peru, Venezuela, Madagascar...) and 64 other countries already have labeling with no increase in cost or confusion. Further, there is no scientific consensus as even a cursory examination of the peer-reviewed literature shows. There are 193 countries that are member states of the UN; 28, 40 or even 70 countries arguably amenable to GM does not constitute a majority consensus of GM safety. The U.S is proposing mandatory GM labeling and several state initiatives have already passed. This situation will leave Canada as the ONLY industrialized nation with no labeling requirements or precautionary policies regarding the technology. Expect a big biotech/food manufacturer stand against a Canadian labeling bill but consumers have the right to expect media to present a balanced picture of this complex issue.

It would appear the objection from industry over GM disclosure is rooted solely in fear that the info will affect consumer purchasing patterns and, therefore, profits. These companies have enormous advertising budgets - perhaps these budgets should have better addressed consumer concerns, shown consumers WHY the product is superior instead of fostering distrust by waging costly battles to avoid disclosure. Which other industries believe their products are SO fantastic that they don't want anyone to know about them?

Patricia Krumpek

Why wait to see what happens? Is it not about time the agri food industry went on an advertising campaign explaining food safety? It may cost less in the long run trying to shape the opinions of the public now, than attempting to turn the momentum it gathers because the uninformed 'heard from concerned citizens' and vote in something they know little about.

Of course this must be done!! Just because the food companies do not want people to know of their deceitful GMO input to our food, does NOT mean that the government should not protect our health by giving people the information they have a right to know!!!

why don't farmers label their produce with pride if they think that GMO is so positive.....label the GMO Sweet Corn at Farmers Markets
Label the GMO Corn and Soybeans that go into Animal Feed
Label the GMO Corn used as sweeteners

etc etc

just label it so people know

Stan Holmes

The best labels come from Health Canada and the CFIA, who have deemed the GMO products safe.

There will always be the perspective from a certain crowd of consumers that "safe" is not good enough and that is where the organic choice should kick in, however maybe the price of organic doesn't appeal to them.

The people who support GMO are not clamouring for labels. It is only the Luddites opposed to GMO that are complaining. Why not label the GMO-free food only to satisfy them?
Labelling GMO containing foodstuff would needlessly add regulatory burdens and drive up the costs without helping the anti-GMO crowd make lifestyle choices.

Its a given that the costs will rise with these non-GMO labeled foods.I believe that to be the whole point,whether its gluten free,organic, hormone free, steroid free or humanly raised, every time a label is applied the price goes up and we live in a Country that doesn't seem to mind paying that price.

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