Dialogue and debate over genetically modified foods continues

Canadians should have the right to make up their mind about whose GM food science is the most credible to them

To the Editor,

I see that once again the President of Croplife Canada is tracking my movements on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  This comes as no surprise since, during the introduction of my GMO Bill C-474 in the last Parliament, one of his executives explicitly told me that Croplife did not want my bill being debated in parliament.  Subsequently, with the help of other corporate lobbyists they were successful in killing my bill.

The obvious question remains – if GMOs are so safe and good for us, why must everything about them be kept so deeply under wraps? Why doesn’t this industry want any debate at? Why can’t we have mandatory labelling so that people can decide for themselves if they are comfortable enough with the technology to consume it?  Why can’t farmers have a market analysis on new crops before their international markets reject them at their borders if found contaminated by unwanted GMOs as recently happened to our flax farmers?

In Canada, we currently grow four GMO crops – canola, soy, corn and sugar beet.  This technology involves the transfer of genes between species to either make the plant herbicide resistant or insect resistant.  That is it.

During the GMO public forums I recently hosted throughout the riding, which Mr. Hepworth refers to, Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) informed us that not enough is known about the impact GM foods have on our health.  Health Canada bases its approval on research conducted by Monsanto and other biotech companies.  Independent research is scarce and completely ignored by Canadian regulators.  Whenever independent research is able to link GMOs with health disorders, such as in studies conducted by Professor Gilles Seralini at the CRIIGEN Institute in France, there are well funded efforts to discredit them.  Seralini, supported by 1100 scientists from 35 different countries and thousands of citizens in a signed petition, has just won the defamation suit he filed in a French court against a fellow Professor with industry ties who had accused him of “stretching of the rules of scientific neutrality”.

Instead of allowing the tail to wag the dog, our government should be at the forefront of research to determine the validity of these studies, strictly as a precautionary principle. Instead it endorses biased and, according to Professor Seralini et al, flawed research by industry scientists.

Canadians should have the right to make up their mind about whose science is the most credible to them.  Instead they are being forced to unknowingly consume a technology and a corporate agenda they might otherwise avoid given the choice.

Alex Atamanenko, MP, BC Southern Interior