An overwhelming majority of Canadians believe that Genetically-Modified (GM) food should be labelled. But agri-food corporations don’t want consumers to know their food is genetically-engineered. Why? Because they know that most people would buy non-GMO food given the choice, and not simply because they suspect non-GMO food is healthier, but also because they are aware that most GM crops are altered to tolerate pesticides, and that growing GM crops invariably leads to increased pesticide use over time (especially the use of Monsanto-owned “glyphosphate,” which the UN has ruled is “probably” carcinogenic). Consumers also realize GM technology and seeds are owned and controlled by a handful of transnational corporations, such as Monsanto, and they would much rather support a less industrialized and chemical-intensive method of food production.
Despite very valid reasons for wanting a choice, Liberal and Conservative governments have consistently denied consumers that freedom, always siding with corporations by defeating Private Member Bills to label GM foods. For example, in 2008, the Conservative government under Harper defeated such a Bill (C-517) at second reading.
With growing demands for GM food labeling during the last federal election, Canadians expected a different outcome with the Trudeau government. In early 2016, a Health Canada-commissioned survey found that 78% of Canadians want mandatory labeling of GM Food. Bolstered by these results, NDP MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault introduced Bill C-291 in June, 2016, to amend the Food and Drugs Act to require labeling of GM Food.
On December 15, 2016, during a Radio-Canada interview, Trudeau was asked if he supported labeling GM food. He responded by saying: “This is about protecting consumers. I am hearing consumers say loud and clear that they want to know more about what they are putting in their bodies. This is a good thing.”
Bill C-291 passed second reading in Parliament on May 10, 2017, then came back to the House for final reading and a vote during the evening session on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. The Majority Liberal government defeated the Bill with 216 “nays” to just 67 “yeahs”.
Hon. Sean Casey was the only PEI Liberal MP to vote in favour of the Bill. MacAulay, Morrissey and Easter (who, as NFU President was once the loudest voice in the country calling for GM labeling) voted against the Bill, obviously believing it’s more important for transnational corporations to be able to hide the truth about what they are selling, than for us to know the truth about what we are buying and eating.
Let’s read what Trudeau said about GM labeling one more time: “This is about protecting consumers. I am hearing consumers say loud and clear that they want to know more about what they are putting in their bodies. This is a good thing.”
Now let’s read what Trudeau said about politicians making promises they have no intention of keeping: “Promising something that seems popular at the time that you know you’re never going to deliver – that’s the kind of cynical politics that I don’t want any part of [June 18, 2015, Ottawa Citizen]. And Liberal politicians wonder why we’re losing faith in them and our system of democracy they treat with such disdain!
Great article, Kevin.