Canadians Against Pesticides
CACCIA PUSHES FOR
LABELLING OF GM FOODS
APRIL 13, 20019
MP Charles Caccia recently introduced a private member's bill to make labelling mandatory for foods with genetically modified ingredients.
It would seem to have the support of Health Minister Alan Rock. In an interview with CBC's Susan Harada, he says "I like the idea of knowing what's in the food I'm eating, my family's eating. As to labelling GM foods, let's find out if it's feasible and, if so, how it's best done."
They seem like words of assurance, however the Honourable Minister is noted for being long on talk and short on action. In May 2000, Charles Caccia submitted his Environment and Sustainable Behaviour commitee's 200 plus page report on the hazardous effects of pesticides on Canadians. It demanded significant and swift change to the 30 year old Pest Control Products Act which governs pesticide registration and use in Canada. Mr Rock, whose portfolio includes the management of this legislation, was quick to voice support of the report. However, in the nearly one year since it was published, the Health Minister has done virtually nothing to implement any sincere, profound change in the PCPA.
Caccia's proposed Bill C-287 is soon to be debated in the House and will go to vote sometime in late May or early June. If it receives House approval, the Bill will then go on to committee for debate and (if it survives) will come back to the House for a final vote.
Please contact your local MP, the Prime Minister, ALan Rock and Charles Caccia to voice your support of this bill. All MP contact info can be found at www.caps.20m.com/mps.htm
Hon. Charles Caccia
MP - Davenport
Government of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada
Rm. 353S, Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
BILL C-287 - SUMMARY
This enactment provides for all foods or food ingredients that are or that contain genetically modified material to be labelled to this effect, in accordance with the regulations. It does not apply to content of genetically modified material in a food or in a food ingredient below one percent, to allow for the practical limitations that exist in the avoidance of contamination.
This labelling will allow for research and post-release monitoring of potential health effects of genetically modified foods. It will also enable purchasers to decide whether to purchase products containing genetically modified material.
As this applies at all stages of sale, it will require the genetic history of a food or ingredient to be recorded and traced through all stages of distribution, manufacture, processing, packaging and sale.
Purchasers at all stages, from production to retail sale, must require the vendor to undertake in writing that the requirements of the Act and the regulations have been complied with. This will ensure the integrity of the documentation trail, facilitate accurate labelling and prevent incorrectly labelled or unlabelled material reaching the consumer.
The enactment allows for the requirement for labelling to be brought into force with respect to different foods, as soon as the relevant regulations are made, and time has been allowed to enable the necessary procedures and controls to be put in place.
This enactment will not affect the right of a vendor to apply voluntary labelling describing a food as being ``GM free'', if that is the case.
The existing provisions of the Act for inspection, enforcement, offences and penalties apply. New offences related to false, misleading or incomplete labelling are established and include persons who are wilfully blind to defects in labelling. These offences would incur the existing penalties in the Act, which include fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to 3 years.
The existing power to exempt foods from the provisions of the Act is limited so that foods may not be exempted from the provisions respecting labelling of genetically modified foods, except packaged specialty foods that are unlikely to be a significant or essential part of a diet and that are labelled to show that they have been exempted from the requirement to declare the genetically modified content.
Provision is made for the Minister to initiate research into the long-term effects of the consumption of genetically modified food on human health.