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Canada Votes 'No' on GE-Food Labels

Podcast: 'Deconstructing Dinner' on Bill C-517's defeat in the House of Commons.

Jon Steinman 26 May 2008TheTyee.ca

Jon Steinman is producer and host of Kootenay Coop Radio's program Deconstructing Dinner.

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On April 10, Deconstructing Dinner aired a segment on Bill C-517 -- a bill introduced by Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament Gilles A. Perron. The bill was calling for the mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods.

Canadians have long been demanding that foods containing genetically engineered ingredients be labelled. Over 40 countries around the world have successfully implemented such requirements.

On April 3, 2008, C-517 was debated in the House by members of all parties. Deconstructing Dinner recorded the debate and followed up with Conservative MP Bruce Stanton who opposed the bill.

The bill was debated yet again on May 5, and on May 7 was defeated by a vote of 156-101.

However, there's one problem; some MPs opposing the bill and joining in the debate on May 5 clearly had very little idea what genetically engineered foods are. Some information in particular, which was shared with the expressed purpose of assuring other MPs and Canadians that GE-foods are safe, was, quite simply, untrue.

The freedom to choose between genetically-engineered foods and non-engineered foods has been negated due to misinformation used to influence the vote.

Of course, as per usual, only one other media source has covered this bill, and that is the country's largest agricultural publication: The Western Producer. Unfortunately, even they did not pick up on the misinformed MPs speaking on the bill.

Voices/guests

Rob Merrifield, MP Yellowhead, Conservative Party of Canada (Whitecourt, Alta.) -- Rob represents the Yellowhead riding in Alberta, making up the area west of Edmonton towards the B.C. border. Rob is a farmer in Whitecourt and has been growing genetically engineered crops for many years. He was first elected to the House in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2006. He has chaired the Health Committee and has been involved in the Health Portfolio since he was first elected as a member of Parliament.

Wayne Easter, MP Malpeque, Liberal Party of Canada (North Wilitshire, P.E.I.) -- Wayne is the Liberal Party's critic on agriculture and agri-food. He represents the riding of Malpeque, which is the central part of Prince Edward Island. Easter was raised on a farm and attended the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. He was first elected as the MP in 1993 and has been re-elected ever since. Wayne has been very involved in Canadian agricultural issues and has long supported the principles of globalization and free trade with respect to food.

Josh Brandon, agriculture campaigner, Greenpeace Canada (Vancouver, B.C.) -- Josh is an agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace and has worked on many projects across the country to raise awareness of issues of genetic engineering. He is a member of the steering committee for the Society for a GE Free B.C. and is an agriculture representative on the National Council of the Canadian Environmental Network.

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