Greenpeace says British Columbians want labels on genetically modified food

By Dirk Meissner

VICTORIA (CP) - The British Columbia government is trying to figure out which ministry should be handling the issue of whether to label genetically modified foods at a time when a Greenpeace poll suggests consumers in the province are worried about it.

The poll conducted by Strategic Communications surveyed 601 eligible B.C. voters and found almost 80 per cent of them said they want the government to force companies to reveal if the food they are eating has been genetically engineered.

When asked about the poll's findings, the Environment Ministry transferred the question to the Agriculture Ministry, and a spokesman there said he'd have to talk to federal Health Department officials in Ottawa later.

The federal government has called for voluntary labelling of genetically engineered foods and the provincial Liberal government in Quebec has promised to introduce a food-labelling law.

Greenpeace estimates up to 70 per cent of the 30,000 processed foods on grocery store shelves in Canada include genetically engineered organisms, but consumers have no way of knowing it.

There are no long-term studies on the effects of genetically engineered foods and biotechnology on human health, Greenpeace spokesman Josh Brandon said.

"There hasn't been sufficient testing of genetically modified foods," he said.

"Most people in B.C. and most Canadians don't want to be guinea pigs for this kind of technology."

Corn, soy, canola and cotton are the major crops being genetically modified, but biotechnology companies are looking to experiment with numerous others, Brandon said.

"People have a right to be scared about things that they don't know that food companies are trying to hide from them," he said.

"If this is a truly safe technology then why doesn't the government label it and give people the right to choose whether they want to be consuming this kind of food or not."

Many of the genetically engineered products found in Canadian foods come in the form of processed ingredients like corn fructose, Brandon said.

In the United States, the government said last month that food from cloned animals is safe to eat.

After more than five years of study, the Food and Drug Administration concluded that cloned livestock is "virtually indistinguishable" from conventional livestock.

The FDA believes "that meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day," said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Officials said they don't think special labels are needed, although a decision on labelling is pending.

To produce a clone, the nucleus of a donor egg is removed and replaced with the DNA of a cow, pig or other animal. A tiny electric shock coaxes the egg to grow into a copy of the original animal.
Cloning companies say it's just another reproductive technology, such as artificial insemination.
Some U.S. surveys have shown people to be uncomfortable with food from cloned animals - 64 per cent said they were uncomfortable with such food in a September poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, a non-partisan research group.
But in Asia, countries like China, India, Singapore and Taiwan place great emphasis on their agricultural biotech industries.
Taiwan is turning algae and fish scales into skin-care products. Herbs are made into health foods and evergreen trees are cultivated to make anticancer drugs.
In North America, fashion designers are using a genetically engineered corn fibre called Ingeo to make dresses.
Brandon said the food labelling issue has the potential to influence voters in British Columbia.
According to the Greenpeace poll, labelling is an issue that crosses party lines with support for mandatory labelling high among women, voters between 35 and 49 years old and supporters of the Green Party and New Democrats.
The poll was conducted between Nov. 23 and Nov. 30, 2006 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Copyright 2007 Canadian Press
It's interesting to note that in Canada, the CFIA includes PNT's, which are plants with novel traits. These are plants that through selective breeding have traits which are outside the normal range of similar traits in that species of plant. It's a unique approach in food safety as far as I'm aware of. Not surprisingly Monsanto is big in this area.
bloody silly

firstly as tonington alluded, selective breeding is merely a slower version of GM but has been going on with things like wheat for thousands of years.

secondly, I personally would be dead without the excretions of genetically modified bacteria. genetic modification isn't some transylvanian attempt at playing God, it's merely introducing useful things to our crops.

dont get your knickers in a twist
I think the gloom over GMO food is silly also, but I do think labelling is a good idea. Perhaps if they were to use some part of the peanut genome for example, it could be allergenic.

Personally I'd like to see more genetic modification. The ecosystems are changing rapidly, and these organisms we're culturing have evolved in most cases to have a vary narrow range for optimal growth conditions.
i see your point about the peanut thing, although i think it's likely we know which part of the peanut causes the trouble and wouldnt add that to a plant without making it clear. I don't care if they label it or not, cos i know from experience that labels often lie anyway so we still wouldnt know
I think it's a good idea. When I found out about genetically altered foods in my social studies class I got kind of freaked out. The government wants you dead before 62!
This is a good idea.

I'm far more inclined to buy foods if they are labelled genetically modified.
L Gilbert
Reminds me of when the idea of nuking food hit the light of day. People actually thought that they would glow in the dark and grow tentacles if they ate something that had been irradiated. rofl
Some days I glow ,

we could adapt our diets ? ,
label the stuff ,those who are alright with it can enjoy others have a choice ,

Like said above, we have Thur the years grown things where the weren't initial grown ,blended types of potatoes ,tomatoes -to suit climate -as long as things are done in a moral ,logical fashion I see it as progression --inevitable these plants would adapt --lol

look at Purple loosestrife ,it adapted quite well to our dismay --lol
L Gilbert
....... and Eurasian milfoil. Yup.
The introduction of milfoil can drastically alter a waterbody's ecology. Milfoil forms very dense mats of vegetation on the surface of the water. These mats interfere with recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, water skiing, and boating. In eastern Washington milfoil interferes with power generation and irrigation by clogging water intakes.

Funny thier more concerned with recreation --lol

The point being it happens in nature
and we will have choice s right ?