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Canadian organic farmer reacts to 'No' vote on GM labeling

by Marc Loiselle

(Oct. 22, 2001 -- CropChoice guest column) -- The following is my commentary that aired on CBC Radio AM 540 Noon Edition (Regina, SK) last Friday in response to the October 17 vote in Canadian Parliament on Bill C-287, an Act that would have sought to amend the Food & Drugs Act to include labelling of genetically modified food. Host Lindy Thorsen was talking yesterday (last Thursday, Oct. 18) with Barry Wilson, Ottawa based journalist for Western Producer newspaper. Lindy read the email letter at the end of the Noon Edition, just prior to the 1 p.m. newscast.

Lindy, as a concerned citizen and producer of certified organic foods, I'm extremely disappointed with Wednesday's parliamentary vote against the proposed Bill 287 for labelling of genetically engineered food products; and upset with one aspect of the Noon Edition's coverage of that yesterday.

The organic grains and food sector is part of the grain and food industry and is in support of mandatory labelling of GE food products; therefore 'pat' statements such as were said yesterday stating that the industry is against labelling are inaccurate. It is not fair to lump all sectors of the agriculture industry into general statements when there are clearly different positions on the GE food and labelling issue.

Anyone present at last Friday's press conference by the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate in regards to taking legal action against those companies and possibly the federal government because of damage to our industry due to the introduction of GE (genetically engineered) canola and wheat, will have clearly heard that we support mandatory labelling of GE products. (Editor's note: A CropChoice story on this is forthcoming.)

Furthermore, the initiative by the Canadian General Standards Board to develop standards for the voluntary labelling of such products is fundamentally flawed. It is clear that a voluntary system will allow the vast majority of transgenic food products to not be labelled.

Overall Parliament's vote against Bill C287 demonstrates that our elected officials haven't kept pace with the majority of Canadians who want mandatory labelling of GE products, and that the lobbying by the transgenic corporations, multinational food distributors, and certain agricultural organizations has swayed enough members of Parliament to vote negatively.

Marc Loiselle

Saskatchewan Organic Directorate director member and co-chair of the research and development committee.

Vonda, Saskatchewan