Genetically Modified Foods: Our Uphill Struggle
The Irish and Bhutanese governments’ have made progressive steps towards protecting their population’s food supply. For example, measures have been taken against the potential health and environmental dangers of genetically modified seeds and food stuffs. However, national efforts resisting the unrelenting spread of these ‘Frankenstein’ foods remain public policy aberrations.
Genetically modified foods have not only been proliferated under the guise of free trade, but in recent development aid rhetoric, have been painted as the solution to global hunger. The Canadian government has failed (on numerous occasions) to protect the rights of its citizens. They have truly failed to help us understand if the food we purchase for ourselves and our families has been genetically modified!
Not only does this represent a gross violation of consumer sovereignty rights, but also presents potential ethical dilemmas for various religious and moral groups against the consumption of animals, as GM foods are often spliced with animal genes.
In April 2008, the private house bill C-517 was presented by the Bloc Quebecois, calling for the mandatory labelling of all products containing, or having been produced with, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The Bill was defeated in its first reading, with an overwhelming majority of votes by Canadian MPs, leaving Canadian consumer’s to rely on ‘voluntary’ labelling by corporations.
The fight to protect Canadian eco-systems and consumers against the spread of GMOs has heated up with the proposition of bill C-474, which demanded the protection of Canadian agricultural markets against the potential dangers to export revenues posed by the use of GM wheat and alfalfa.
The bill required that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted”. However, on February 9th 2011, the bill was voted down, thwarting another effort by Canadian health and environmental activists to protect Canadians from the threats posed by GM crops.
Ironically, the Liberal Agricultural critic, Wayne Easter, along with several other voting members of the House of Commons were absent for the vote. They were sadly drawn away from the nation’s capital by a conference featuring the President of Monsanto Incorporated (arguably the largest biotechnology firm in the world) was giving a speech. It appears that Canadian MPs have once again sided with corporate interest over the protection of their constituents’ health.
Canadians need to rally together and petition our MPs to overturn these gross violations of our rights to health and a sound environment. Take a second and go to the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network’s website (www.cban.ca) and find out how your MP voted!