The right to know whether your food is genetically modified is enjoyed by residents of over 60 nations worldwide, but in North America, the fight for mandatory GMO labels is a an uphill one to say the least.
The continent is ground zero for the genetically engineered food industry with Monsanto’s headquarters rooted in the St. Louis, Missouri area and the American agribusiness machine flexing its muscle.
While residents of the United States routinely vote in numbers of 90 percent of higher favoring mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (ie GMO) ingredients, the labeling push has been shut down by lawmakers in collusion with lobbyists and Big Agribusiness.
And now in Canada, a similar situation has unfolded as the country’s parliament has shot down a potential GMO labeling law.
Parliament Says “No” to Estimated 88% of Canadians on GMO Labeling
In 2015 a Canadian Biotechnology Action Network poll found that 88% of Canadians want mandatory labeling of GMO foods, while in 2016 a Health Canada commissioned poll found the number to be 78 percent of Canadians in favor. Polls have consistently showed a similar level of support over the years.
Canadian citizens, much like Americans, clearly want GMOs to be labeled.
But much like what happened in the United States, the Canadian parliament has voted in direction opposition of the wishes of its own people, killing the GMO labeling bill C-291 by a final vote of 216 “Nays” to 67 “Yays.”
That’s less than 24% in favor of GMO labeling overall by voting MPs— far less than the 78% and 88% figures listed above, leading many to question whether the Parliament is actually listening to the opinions of its constituents (Canadians can see which way their MP voted by clicking on this link).
In the wake of the vote, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network published a press release about the next steps they believe the movement should take in Canada.
“In the absence of labeling, (we and hopefully other groups) are calling on major retailers to pledge not to sell the newly approved GM fish, GM apple and GM potato,” the release said, noting the three new types of genetically engineered (ie genetically modified or GM) foods that are either in the process of being released.
All three are of Canadian origin and are expected to enter the food supply without being labeled.
That means restaurants or cafes could begin serving them, including the world’s first GM animal, and consumers would not have the choice to avoid them or to even know whether their food has been genetically altered in a laboratory.
“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 Sharratt.
“Canada is lagging behind the rest of the world,“ said Thibault Rehn of the Vigilance OGM organization in the press release, which noted that 64 countries around the world have GMO labeling.