Open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
As a Yukon farmer, I have some grave concerns about the direction Canada is going regarding genetically modified (GM) products in our food system.
Independent research (as opposed to industry-financed research) is coming out all the time showing that GM grains are causing more and more serious health consequences for the animals that are so fed (infertility, spontaneous abortion, enlarged livers, etc.).
European nations, such as Hungary, are preventing GM foods from penetrating their marketplace in response to their people’s concerns about the long-term safety of such foods. India is doing an about-face vis-a-vis GM foods, due to production losses, farmer suicide and loss of seed sovereignty.
South American countries, such as Peru, have instituted a 10-year ban on GM foods due to safety concerns. Even China has put the brakes on GM rice, due to their people’s suspicion of the benefits of such tampering with this staple.
There is a growing rejection of GM foods by governments around the world … except in Canada and the United States. However, even in the United States the upcoming November election will see Proposition 37 on the California ballot, which will ask the voters whether they would like to see GM foods labelled. Many Canadians are watching this with great interest and enthusiasm, as we also would like to see GM foods labelled, giving us an informed choice as to how we spend our food dollars.
I have written of my concerns to Health Canada, and received a standard letter in which I was assured that Health Canada was also concerned about Canadians’ well-being, had guidelines in place to oversee the approval of GM products, wouldn’t dream of putting Canadians’ health at risk, etc. None of my actual points were directly addressed, which was frustrating.
I would like to ask you what your views are on labelling GM products, and whether the Conservative government would consider putting this question before the Canadian public? I know that there is a voluntary policy in place that companies can, if they so choose, label GM products, but everyone knows that a voluntary policy is almost as good as no policy at all. No one would label something GM when, according to opinion polls, 70 per cent of Canadians would not buy such food if they knew it contained genetically modified organisms.
Canadians need to have our food correctly labelled so that we can make informed and healthy choices for our families.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding what you think about labelling GM food.