Lucy Sharratt, a coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network explains the situation.
"It was introduced without any labelling, we don't have mandatory GMO food labelling in Canada," Lucy explains. "North America is really the centre of the world's experiments with GM food, in Canada and the US we have been eating GM corn for many years now, almost two decades now. But this is the world's first GM fish, an animal, and it has been put onto the market without any labelling or pubic announcement."
The salmon was produced by a company called AquaBounty and was approved as being safe for human consumption both the US and Canadian authorities. The company has been arguing that it is cheaper to produce GM fish, but the Canadian fish industry that already provides fast growing conventionally bred non-genetically engineered salmon disputes the enhanced growth rate that AquaBounty claims.
Lucy points out that there are long standing health concerns about using GM products that Canadians are worried about. "In Canada there is no long term testing, no requirement for animal feeding trials, and all of the science produced to argue for safety is produced by the company that will sell the products unless some happens to be in the international literature. All of that science that our government requires is kept confidential. So there is not a lot of confidence in the government; 57% of the Canadian public in fact don't have confidence in Canada's safety regulations."
Host John Harrison asks that if there are so many Canadians who have expressed concern over health standards, why can't they force the Canadian parliament to introduce legislation to at least ensure that GMO products are labelled accordingly? Lucy answers that it is very clear both in Canada and in the United States that the industry is putting a lot of money behind ensuring that there is no labelling of GMO products. That's what we've seen in Canada, and so even this year members of parliament did not vote for mandatory labelling….The industry is very powerful and has a lot of money to enable it to argue that labelling is not needed."
It appears that in the name of the great Brave New World that we are entering, we are prepared to sacrifice some our democratic freedoms. Lucy says that all Canadians have at their disposal is the weapon of boycotting products which are known to be genetically modified. Her organisation, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network tracks and provides information to Canadians about what they can buy that is not genetically modified.
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