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9-Misc: Canadian NGO's blast government response on biotech study



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TITLE:  NGO's blast government response on biotech study
SOURCE: Council of Canadians, http://www.canadians.org/, Press Release
DATE:   November 26, 2001

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NGO's blast government response on biotech study

Ottawa -The government's latest missive on GE food is a slap in the face to 
Canadians concerned about the issue, says the Council of Canadians. The 
federal government issued an action plan late last Friday in response to 
the Royal Society of Canada's (RSC) Expert Panel report on GE foods.

"After months of being pressured by the Council of Canadians and other 
groups to respond to the RSC's report, what we've been given here is a 
great deal of talk with no concrete action," says Nad¸ge Adam, campaigner 
for the Council of Canadians. "Not only do they wait until everyone's gone 
home to release this report but this so-called action plan doesn't even 
scratch the surface in terms of what is needed to address the problems 
posed by GE foods."

The action plan is full of non-committal and largely bureaucratic 
initiatives calling for years of consultations. Many promises of revisions 
to current regulations are made but no concrete actions seeking to 
implement the RSC's recommendations seem to be included. For example, the 
report acknowledges that GE foods should be submitted to a rigorous 
scientific assessment but falls short of calling for the implementation of 
this new assessment plan and ignores the RSC's recommendation to open those 
rigorous testing regimes to the expert scientific community or to have them 
monitored by 'an appropriately configured panel of arms-length experts' who 
report their findings in a public forum.

The great disappointment comes with the governmental response only focusing 
on future GE foods and continuing to ignore the safety risks associated 
with GE foods currently in the marketplace.

"The RSC report clearly stated that the existing federal regulations are 
scientifically unsound," says Adam, "the responsible thing to do would be 
to implement a moratorium on any further releases of GE foods until the 
reassessment of the regulatory framework is completed. Canadians should not 
be exposed to such risks."

Following the defeat of Bill C-287, which called for the mandatory 
labelling of GE foods, this action plan adds insult to injury for thousands 
of Canadians across the country.

"It's not enough that our government is refusing to give Canadians the 
right to know and to choose what they eat, they have now shown that they 
plan to take little action to restore consumer confidence in the regulatory 
system."

-30-

For more information:
Jennifer Story, Council of Canadians
ph: (+1-613) 233-4487, ext. 234
cell: (+1-613) 795-8685

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