Members of the Canadian Parliament voted against approving mandatory labeling of genetically modified [GMO] foods in a vote on May 17.
The private members bill C-291 — introduced by Pierre-Luc Dusseault, the NDP (New Democratic Party) MP for Sherbrooke, Quebec — was defeated by a significant margin, with 67 yeas, and 216 nays.
The bill would have established mandatory labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods. Bill C-291 was an “An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (genetically modified food)” and simply states “No person shall sell any food that is genetically modified unless its label contains the information prescribed under paragraph 30(1)(b.2).”
Opponents argued that Bill C-291 did not contain a definition of the term “genetically modified” and that the wording was too vague.
The defeat is a major blow to Canadian advocates who say more than 75% of Canadians desire the labelling and had hoped to follow the EU and US in approving some kind of requirement for disclosure of genetically engineered food ingredients.
In the absence of labelling, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and Vigilance OGM, are calling on major Canadian retailers to pledge not to sell the newly approved GM fish, GM apple and GM potato.
“At this point, retailers should make it easy and clear for their customers by keeping GM fish, and GM fruits and vegetables out of stores,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
The world’s first GM food animal – a GM Atlantic salmon – could be sold in Canada as early as 2018. A GM apple and GM potato have also recently been approved in Canada, but are not yet on the food market in Canada.