Greenpeace Canada

Greenpeace Canada

October 20, 2006 14:45 ET

Greenpeace calls for mandatory GE labelling in BC

BC's turn to commit to labeling of Genetically Engineered food

Attention: Agriculture Editor, Environment Editor, Food/Beverage Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor VANCOUVER/BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 20, 2006) - The British Columbia government should heed the advice of its own health officials and require that all Genetically Engineered (GE) food be labelled. This is the message Greenpeace will be giving to the province's Agriculture Planning Committee, which is holding public hearings today. This demand echoes the recommendations of the provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall who in his 2005 annual report, concluded that all GE foods should be labelled as such.

"When the highest health authority in the province suggests stronger safety standards are needed, the BC government must act to label GE foods and provide consumers the information they need about the food they eat," said Greenpeace GE campaigner, Josh Brandon. "Canadians have the right to know what they are eating and it is only then that they will be able to make the right choice and say no to GE food."

The previous Liberal federal government refused to bring in mandatory labelling and instead adopted a voluntary system that left it up to the food industry whether or not to label GE food. However, since adopting that policy in April 2004, not one label has been found in Canada's supermarkets indicating that food contained or was made from GE crops. Since corn, canola and soy are the main GE crops that are in about 70% of the processed food sold in Canada, it is likely that many foods currently on the shelves are genetically engineered. This lack of labels illustrates the ineffectiveness of voluntary compliance and the need for mandatory labelling.

"Genetically engineering of the food we eat is an inherently risky process," Brandon added. "Current understanding of the impacts of genetic engineering is extremely limited and scientists do not know the long-term effects of releasing these organisms into the environment and into people's diets."

Other provinces are more aware of the dangers posed by GE foods and crops both to people's health and the environment. In Quebec, the Liberal government is moving toward provincial mandatory labelling. The agricultural committee of the Quebec National Assembly unanimously recommended mandatory labelling of genetically modified food in Quebec in June 2004.

Quebec is not the only province concerned about the lack of effective labelling. The Prince Edward Island Standing Committee on Agriculture recommended the labelling of foods that are and are not products of genetic modification, stressing that such labels should be informative, understandable and verifiable.

BC risks being left behind in terms of national standards unless it enacts legislation requiring the labelling of all genetically engineered products, which is already in place in about 45 countries.

Josh Brandon will be appearing at the BC Agriculture Planning Committee at 7 pm at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Room 328, 1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island.

For more information contact:

Josh Brandon, Greenpeace Canada, GE campaigner, cell: 604-721-7493
Andrew Male, Greenpeace Canada, Communications, cell: 416-880-2757 IN: AGRICULTURE, ENVIRONMENT, FOOD, POLITICS

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