GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

[genet-news] POLICY & REGULATION: Bill C-474 heads back to Canadian Parliament



                                  PART 1


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

TITLE:   BILL C-474 HEADS BACK TO HOUSE

SOURCE:  Portage Online, Canada

AUTHOR:  Kelvin Heppner

URL:     http://www.portageonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19607&Itemid=469

DATE:    29.10.2010

SUMMARY: "Bill C-474 would require an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically modified seed [...] It?s expected it will be defeated as the Liberals have said they will not support the bill."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


BILL C-474 HEADS BACK TO HOUSE

Bill C-474 would require an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically modified seed Hearings on Bill C-474, the proposed legislation dealing with the introduction of genetically modified seed, have been shut down. A motion by the three opposition parties to extend debate by 30 days was defeated when a large number of Liberal and NDP members missed the vote late Wednesday. Expecting hearings to continue, representatives from a number of farm groups including the Grain Growers of Canada and the Canadian Wheat Board had flown in to Ottawa to speak to the committee Thursday morning. They were told they could go home without presenting. The Bill now returns to the House for a final vote. It?s expected it will be defeated as the Liberals have said they will not support the bill.



                                  PART 2

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

TITLE:   GMO PETITION GIVEN TO CANNAN

SOURCE:  Global Toronto, Canada

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.globaltoronto.com/petition+given+Cannan/3752995/story.html

DATE:    30.10.2010

SUMMARY: "The fight against genetically modified foods is heating up in the Okanagan after a petition with hundreds of signatures was handed over to Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan. Kelowna resident Heidi Osterman, a certified nutritionist, is spearheading a fight to convince federal politicians to support Bill C-474, a bill that would put a stop to genetically engineered crops."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


GMO PETITION GIVEN TO CANNAN

The fight against genetically modified foods is heating up in the Okanagan after a petition with hundreds of signatures was handed over to Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan. Kelowna resident Heidi Osterman, a certified nutritionist, is spearheading a fight to convince federal politicians to support Bill C-474, a bill that would put a stop to genetically engineered crops. ?Bill C474 is our chance to criticize the biotech industry for the first time,? Osterman said. ?We need to protect the rights of our farmers who are losing their export markets as genetically modified crops, seeds and pollen spread into their fields.? A vote on the bill is expected to take place in Parliament in the next week. A rally in Kelowna has also been organized for Saturday, November 6. Those interested in participating are asked to meet at the Sails in downtown Kelowna at 11 am.



                                  PART 3

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

TITLE:   GOVERNMENT OPPOSES BIODIVERSITY PROTOCOLS

SOURCE:  Embassy, Canada

AUTHOR:  Carl Meyer

URL:     http://www.embassymag.ca/page/view/bio-10-27-2010

DATE:    27.10.2010

SUMMARY: "Canada's policies on genetically-modified crops and aboriginal rights are set to come under the international spotlight this week as Environment Minister Jim Prentice and his delegation touch down at a major UN biodiversity summit in Japan. The 12-day Convention on Biological Diversity summit in Nagoya is intended to head off the rapid loss of plant and animal species that is happening around the world. The belief is that a more diversified global ecosystem has a better chance of protecting life. "

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


GOVERNMENT OPPOSES BIODIVERSITY PROTOCOLS

Canada's policies on genetically-modified crops and aboriginal rights are set to come under the international spotlight this week as Environment Minister Jim Prentice and his delegation touch down at a major UN biodiversity summit in Japan. 

The 12-day Convention on Biological Diversity summit in Nagoya is intended to head off the rapid loss of plant and animal species that is happening around the world. The belief is that a more diversified global ecosystem has a better chance of protecting life. 

To facilitate this, summit participants are looking at things like hard targets to prevent deforestation and implementing new rules and regulations that would see victims of biodiversity loss compensated. 

They are also examining potential rules on sharing genetic material to ensure corporations don't get a stranglehold over biodiversity. 

But Canada has already been blamed for being obstructionist in several aspects of the biodiversity meetings. Chief among these is the fact that Canada objects to a reference to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a protocol over sharing the proceeds from the sale of genetic material with sovereign populations. 

For that, Canada has already won a "Dodo Award" - similar to the Fossil Awards handed out during climate change summits - by a network of NGOs following the bio-diversity summit. 

On top of this, Canada is still refusing to ratify the Cartagena Protocol, which would force Canadian officials to inform others before exporting genetically-modified plants and animals. 

That move pits environmental groups and the UN, who see bio-safety as an essential aspect of biodiversity that must be defended, against the Canadian government and private industry, who see the negotiations as a trade issue and many of the safety concerns as scientifically unfounded. 

Problems with aboriginal rights 

One big aspect of the convention on bio-diversity is the notion of sharing the proceeds of biotechnology with national populations. The UN recognizes the sovereign right of states over its natural resources, meaning some type of framework must be established to share benefits of the use of genetic material. 

Eric Darier, director of Greenpeace Quebec, travelled to Japan to represent his organization's international outfit at the table. He said that the benefits-sharing regime grew out of the notion that corporations go into developing countries to hunt for genetic material to be turned into medicine or other beneficial product. They then patent that material and reap the profits. 

A major complaint from developing countries has been that this process infringes on their sovereign right over their own natural resources, and the proceeds should be shared with aboriginal communities. 

That is why the preamble of this regime is reported to have included a reference to the UN indigenous rights declaration. 

But Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy, who is travelling with Mr. Prentice to Japan, said his office had heard that Canada tried to have that section blacked out. 

Canada is one of four countries that voted against the declaration. 

Mr. Darier also said that Canada was being obstructionist in his view because of the reluctance by Canada to "give more rights to First Nations." 

"Here's an example where the Canadian government is basically frustrating some of the negotiations and progress...it's expected that it will continue until the last day, unfortunately." 

Canadian native populations have responded angrily in the press to the idea that Canada would be blocking an international environmental treaty because of its refusal to adopt the UN indigenous rights declaration. 

The government says that its position on aboriginal rights does not detract from its commitment "to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal peoples in Canada," and that its continued analysis of the aboriginal rights declaration is a separate issue. 

"The Government of Canada is proud of the leadership it has taken to protect the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and we will continue work to advance and uphold the rights of Aboriginal peoples at home and abroad," said a spokesperson for Environment Canada in an email. 

Blocked over biotechnology 

The Cartagena Protocol is supposed to stop the unwanted cross-border migration of genetically altered genes. In international shipping, there is often spillage as cargo is loaded, unloaded or moved around, and when some of this spillage is genetically-modified seeds coming from another country, it has the potential to merge with the local soil and plant life. 

The UN believes that because close to half of the global economy is based on biological products and process, biodiversity is paramount to the survival of the human race, and bio-safety is an essential ingredient in biodiversity. 

The pre-amble of Cartagena recognizes "the rapid expansion of modern biotechnology and the growing public concern over its potential adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health," as well as the potential good uses of biotechnology if proper precautions are taken. 

A big bio-safety supporter is the EU, which has set up Biosafety Europe, a co-ordinated program across 10 European countries funded by the European Commission. The EU is hoping for big results at the Japan summit, calling for a hard target of 2020 to halve biodiversity loss. 

Another big supporter is Greenpeace, which has been highly involved in the agreement's negotiations. The group maintains that Cartagena is an "important step in protecting the planet's biodiversity." 

But while 160 countries are party to Cartagena, Canada is not. The country participated in bio-safety talks throughout the 1990s, signed the agreement in 2001 and hosted meetings of the secretariat in Montreal in the early 2000s, but did not move to ratify it after the protocol entered into force in 2003. 

The government's argument at the time was that while it supported the objectives of the protocol, it needed to consult broadly with stakeholders on the issue of ratification. 

Later that year, it decided that it would not ratify "until further clarity was achieved on the implementation of key provisions of the Protocol." 

This is the current position of the Harper government as well. A spokesperson for Environment Canada said the government will "continue to pursue bilateral discussions with other countries on a range of issues of mutual interest, including trade issues such as those relating to the biotechnology sector," but gave no indication the protocol would be signed this year. 

Mr. Darier says Canada, as one of the world's largest producers of genetically-modified crops, fears Cartagena could restrict the country's exports down the road. 

And if the country does ratify the protocol, it could be exposed to a slew of international legal action against it, potentially forcing it to pay for instances of the transmission of its genetic material abroad. 

Canada has been implicated in a number of spills and contaminations. Canada's largest flax importer, the European Union, says it found genetically-modified flaxseed in Canadian shipments in 2009, despite Canada deregistering the crop in 2001. 

Now, new evidence has emerged demonstrating that Japan is being unwittingly exposed to Canadian bio-engineered plant life as well. 

Japan gets about 90 per cent of its imported canola from Canada in the form of oilseed rape, 93 per cent of which are genetically-modified. A new study in the journal of Environmental Science and Pollution Research says 15 per cent of the plants tested around Japanese ports had genetically-modified genes, and concluded that seeds are spilling off trucks on their way to Japanese canola factories. 

Cartagena requires that countries must be informed in advance of, and give explicit consent to, any shipment of genetically-modified material into their territory. However, right now, Canada's non-ratification of Cartagena means it operates in looser regulations when shipping genetically-modified seeds such as oilseed rape to Japan. 

The industry view 

The biotechnology industry in Canada argues that genetically modified crops are the most strenuously-tested food crops in the world, and that by using these crops, farmers get better control over crop diseases, pests and drought and will have bigger crop yields. 

They also argue that using these crops means soil is better preserved than when using conventional farming techniques, and so greenhouse gases are reduced. 

Canada has "an outstanding, world-recognized regulatory system" that "ensures food, feed and environmental safety for all biotech products," wrote a spokesperson for Monsanto, the world's biggest producer of genetically-engineered seeds and its biggest creator of genetic engineering technology, in an email. 

The industry also argues that biotechnology has gotten a bad name in the public sphere, and that "science-based" approaches prove that there can be a balance achieved between the need for bio-safety and the need for trade of agricultural products. 

CropLife Canada, the main trade association representing manufacturers, developers and distributors of genetically-engineered "plant science," believes that "biotechnology is good for farmers, for consumers and for the environment." The companies represented by CropLife produce genetically-engineered alfalfa, canola, corn, flax, potato, soy and sugar beet. 

A spokesperson for CropLife said the association supports bio-safety measures and the bio-safety protocol because it sees it as "an instrument to enable developing counties to develop regulatory systems so they can make science-based decisions on products of biotech." 

CropLife maintains that the government's position is based on sound science, and thus the association denies it has sway over the country's biotechnology policy, suggesting that the policies are crafted through research and not politics. 

This is also the position of the Canadian Seed Trade Association, a trade group representing genetically-modified seed exports. Executive vice-president Bill Leask says he sees the need to ensure that bio-safety measures stem from "legitimate safety concerns." 

"In many cases the reason that things are being slowed down or even being objected to have nothing to do with safety," he said, suggesting that public sentiment against globalization and consolidation of the biotechnology industry often gets mixed up with bio-safety concerns. 

Mr. Leask says he has been recommending that Canada not ratify Cartagena because he has not heard enough clarity on the issue of how to push countries to carry out their ratifications. Although he could not provide a specific figure, he says "many" countries have chosen to ratify the protocol but have not moved to implement it. 

On Oct. 16, the bio-safety meetings in Japan surprised everyone by concluding six years of negotiations and adopting a new treaty on Cartagena liability and redress. The treaty would provide for restoration and compensation for damage to biological diversity. 




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
GENET-news is a public news service from GENET.
Visit GENET website to learn more about GENET: www.genet-info.org
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~