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6-Regulation: GM Labelling: Canada is crawling before industry and USA

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TITLE:  GM Labelling: Canada is crawling before industry and USA
SOURCE: The Council of Canadians
DATE:   Nov 13, 2002

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GM Labelling: Canada is crawling before industry and USA

OTTAWA, ONTARIO - The Government of Canada, via Agriculture Canada, rejected
once again mandatory labelling of genetically modified food, invoking
"commercial factors" and "trade agreements" for this decision. Agriculture Canada's
response to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food Report,
"Labelling of Genetically Modified Food and Its Impacts on Farmers", issued on
November 1st without fanfare, confirms that the Government of Canada has given
up its domestic authority on the topic to the biotech industry and the United

In response to Recommendation 4 of the Standing Committee report, which
asked the government to assess the trade implications of labelling, Agriculture
Canada responded that "the WTO and NAFTA agreements contain provisions related
to labelling. Members are required to ensure that labelling regimes are not
discriminatory and do not become unnecessary obstacles to trade." The
response ends by a statement according to which, "the Government will continue to
support industry-led initiatives in a federal-provincial-territorial context
under the Agricultural Policy Framework." "We now have a government agency
which, ON RECORD, states that it is unable to draft domestic policies because of
NAFTA and the WTO," says Nadège Adam, biotechnology campaigner for the
Council of Canadians. "In fact, the response goes as far as saying that it cannot
give Canadians the mandatory labelling policy they want because of the
American resistance."

The Council of Canadians has claimed for years that the signing of NAFTA
would mean that Canada would be forsaking its sovereignty in key areas of its
public policy. However, the federal government, in its response, interprets
very broadly article 904.4 of NAFTA. "The federal government is only trying to
find a weak justification for its crawling before the U.S. Government and the
Monsantos of the world. Labelling of GM food, in response to the public’s
wishes and with respect to the precautionary principle, can certainly be showed
to be a 'legitimate objective' in the sense of NAFTA. The labelling would
affect all GM food, not only from American origin. NAFTA is only a convenient
excuse for the government’s inaction," concludes Adam.


For more information, please contact:
Nadege Adam, Biotechnology Campaigner - Council of Canadians
+1-613.233.4487 ext. 245
Guy Caron, Media Officer - Council of Canadians
+1-613.233.4487 ext. 234


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