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Crackdown urged on modified foods (26/4/2007)

EXTRACT: About 40 countries... already require mandatory labelling of modified foods...

It should not be up to the food industry or governments to decide whether consumers should be told whether GMOs are included in products, Tanguay said, noting surveys show most Canadians in favour of mandatory labelling.

'One of the most fundamental rights of consumers is the right to be informed.'
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Crackdown urged on modified foods
Group wants labelling to become mandatory
ANDY RIGA
The Gazette, April 26, 2007
http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=c389d10c-fe05-47d9-b918-e2c5982c3188

Quebec must act quickly to get a handle on genetically modified organisms or risk paying a high price for its inaction in the future, a coalition of anti-GMO consumer, environmental and farmers' groups told a commission studying the future of farming in Quebec yesterday.

The groups urged Quebec to implement mandatory labelling, encourage alternatives to GMOs and make it easier to hold GMO makers legally accountable when their products contaminate non-GMO crops.

'We know from our experiences with chemicals and tobacco that if we don't take early precautionary measures, we might collectively pay the cost later on,' Eric Darier, of Greenpeace and part of the coalition, said after the presentation. 'Before we go ahead with new products, there should be a fairly solid consensus that those products are safe.'

He said the jury is still out on the impact of GMOs - organisms with genetic material that is altered using gene technology - on health and the environment.

An estimated 70 per cent of processed foods on grocery store shelves contain or might contain genetically modified ingredients.

During the 2003 provincial election, Jean Charest's Liberals pledged to bring in a labelling system, a plan that was later abandoned.

About 40 countries, including the European Union countries, already require mandatory labelling of modified foods, said Charles Tanguay, a spokesperson for the Union des consommateurs, which is part of the coalition.

It should not be up to the food industry or governments to decide whether consumers should be told whether GMOs are included in products, Tanguay said, noting surveys show most Canadians in favour of mandatory labelling.

'One of the most fundamental rights of consumers is the right to be informed,' Tanguay said.

The provincial Commission sur l'avenir de l'agriculture et de l'agroalimentaire quebecois held hearings in Montreal yesterday. It is to present recommendations to the government in January.

ariga@thegazette.canwest.com

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