Columnist contradiction

Re. Sylvain Charlebois guest column Helping secure food supply (Castanet, May 14)

Sylvain Charlebois contradicts himself in his (guest column) about gene-edited foods.

While calling for clear labelling for consumers, he simultaneously defends a new federal decision that will make such labelling impossible.

Many gene-edited seeds and foods can now bypass a government approval process and they will not be listed for the public unless biotechnology companies voluntarily decide to do so.

The decision by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food, following the same from the Ministry of Health, allows companies to put many gene-edited seeds and foods on the market without independent safety assessments by government regulators, and without a mandatory requirement to notify the government. The bottom line is companies cannot be trusted to regulate their own products without any government safety checks.

When it comes to new gene-edited foods, the government should retain its ability to assess company science and its ability to ask companies what seeds and foods they are putting on the market.

Consumers and farmers may soon have no information about what gene-edited products are on the market, and the government has just given away its authority to ask companies for this information.

This decision needs to be reversed to ensure the safety and traceability of all genetically-modified organisms.

Lucy Sharratt
coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

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