Debate Erupts After Canada Parliament Votes Against GE Food Labels

Debate Erupts After Canada Parliament
Votes Against GE Food Labels

The Ottawa Citizen
October 18, 2001

Members of Parliament (MPs) vote against labelling: GM foods Rock absent as
Liberals contribute to defeat of bill

The Canadian Press

Liberal MPs contributed to the defeat of one of their own private member's
bills that would have required mandatory labelling of genetically modified

MPs voted 126-91 against the motion yesterday, defeating the bill in second
reading. Noticeably absent was Health Minister Allan Rock, who earned
applause from consumer groups earlier this month when he came out in favour
of mandatory labelling. But a number of his cabinet colleagues were present
and voted against the idea.

The bill, put forward by Liberal MP Charles Caccia, would have required
mandatory labelling of all foods containing more than one-per-cent
genetically engineered ingredients.

The bill had some support on opposition benches, but support among Liberals
had been difficult to gauge.

Coming out of a caucus meeting yesterday, Mr. Rock professed not to be
aware the bill was up for second reading, or approval in principle.

"When is it up?" he asked. "I guess we'll have to see if I'm available to
vote. We'll see."

"There hasn't been an adequate level of testing of the health and
environmental effects of these foods," said Angela Rickman of the Sierra
Club of Canada.

A letter made public yesterday suggests that cabinet may have agreed on a
strategy to dodge the issue. The letter to Bonnie Brown, chairwoman of the
Commons health committee, suggests the committee hold public hearings on
labelling and related questions. The letter is signed by Mr. Rock,
Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief, Industry Minister Brian Tobin and Trade
Minister Pierre Pettigrew.

Ms. Rickman said the health committee is already tied up examining
legislation on new reproductive technology. "The Liberals ... won't be able
to fool the millions of Canadians who want to know what they're eating by
sloughing it off to a parliamentary committee."

Canada NewsWire
October 18, 2001, Thursday

Natural Health Sector Vows to Fight
for GE Mandatory Labelling Despite
Bill's Defeat

Canada's natural health food retailers and suppliers have vowed to continue
the fight for mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods, saying the
defeat of Bill C-287 is a direct affront to 90% of Canadians who want such

Sponsored by Liberal MP Charles Caccia, the private member bill would
have required all foods containing genetically engineered organisms in
Canada to be labelled. It was defeated on second reading in the House of
Commons today by a vote of 126-91.

"The actions of our elected officials today flies in the face of the
public interest," said Donna Herringer, President and CEO of the Canadian
Health Food Association (CHFA). "Sending this bill to the Parliamentary
Committee on Health would have provided an opportunity for public debate
and exposed the risks of releasing these products into our diet and environment
without adequate science and long term studies," she added.

According to studies by the CHFA and other polling organizations over the
past three years, 90% of Canadians have said they want mandatory labelling
of genetically engineered (GE) foods. Herringer stated that over 35 countries
including the European Union and Japan are developing, or will have passed,
GE mandatory labelling laws this year.

"Mandatory labelling of GE foods is the only way to give Canadians
freedom of choice. That is why we launched a campaign in natural health
food stores across the country, calling on Canadians to send a message to
Ottawa," said Herringer. "The CHFA will step up efforts to put public pressure
on elected officials until they listen to Canadians."

The Canadian Health Food Association is Canada's largest trade
association representing over 1,200 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers
and importers of natural health products.

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