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6-Regulation: Canada blocks UN agreement on GE food labeling

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Canada blocks agreement on labeling of genetically modified foods
        at key UN meeting
SOURCE: Greenpeace Canada
DATE:   Apr 28, 2003

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Canada blocks agreement on labeling of genetically modified foods at key
UN meeting

Greenpeace and Consumers International have today joined forces to call
on the Canadian government to stop blocking progress towards an
international agreement on the labelling of Genetically Engineering (GE)
foods. These calls come at a crucial time as member states worldwide
gather in Ottawa for a week long UN meeting, part of the Codex
Alimentarius, which could shape whether people round the world have the
right to know what they are eating.

"Labelling of GE foods should be a basic right but in North America,
consumers have to play a guessing game. It is essential that we have an
internationally agreed labelling regime that protects consumers
worldwide. Today's meeting has the potential to make great strides
towards this. By blocking progress, Canada is undermining a fundamental
right of Consumers to know what they are eating", said Julian Edwards
Director General of the UK-based Consumers International - an umbrella
organisation for Consumers associations worldwide.

The EU and other countries believe in applying the precautionary
principle to GE food. Canada opposes that direction. "There is still a
lot of debate about the risks of GE food despite stringent denials of any
risk by its proponents. People deserve to know what they are eating ? and
labelling GE foods is a vital part of informing the public," said Eric
Darier, Genetic Engineering Campaigner with Greenpeace.

Over 3 billion people around the world live in countries with labelling
regimes for GE food. "There are excellent examples of providing this
information to consumers without undue complications in the food system
or price increases," Edwards pointed out.

Even efforts to achieve limited labeling of GE foods in Canada are
stalled. "A government- industry committee has been looking at this for
over three years," Darier said. "They seem to be trying to design a label
that meets the wishes of industry, not the needs of consumers. It's time
for Parliament to insist on mandatory labelling."

Both Edwards and Darier will be attending this weeks meeting of the Codex
Alimentarius Committee on Food Labelling as official international
observers. The Codex Alimentarius is a daughter-body of the United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health
Organisation. Codex food rules are the point of reference for any WTO
trade challenges related to food standards.