MacAdam's GMO support angers Health Coalition (12/11/2005)

Hi Folks,

Hope you can share this in your GM Watch. I have attended all hearings of this Legislative Committee. The people have spoken loud and clear in favour of making P.E.I. a GMO Free Province.

Mary Boyd
Chair, P.E.I. Health Coalition

EXCERPT: "The law says demonstrate safety first, but Health Canada [the Canadian governmental agency overseeing GM foods] is saying first demonstrate it's not safe. They've shifted the burden onto the public."

MacAdam's GMO support angers Health Coalition
The Guardian (Charlottetown, PEI, Canada), November 11, 2005

P.E.I. (Prince Edward Island) Agriculture Minister Kevin MacAdam sabotaged public hearings regarding genetically modified organisms when he appeared Wednesday to throw his full support behind GMO foods, charges a spokesman for the Canadian Health Coalition.

"It was inappropriate of the minister to appear without any evidence and speak on behalf of industry," said Michael McBane, the coalition's executive director.

He said MacAdam tried to sway the committee members who wrapped up lengthy hearings on GMOs. The committee is expected to report to the legislature during this fall session.

There is an effort, which has drawn some support from Premier Pat Binns, to have P.E.I. declared a GMO-free province.

McBane praised the premier for generating discussion on the GMO issue.

"Where is the voice of the people?" McBane asked. "I hope the premier won't let the hearings be hijacked."

There are already hundreds of acres of GMO foods being grown on P.E.I. which has drawn the concern of a number of environmental and health activists.

The safety of GMOs was heatedly disputed at the conclusion of the hearings held by the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Environment.

Following an afternoon of testimony from a number of GMO supporters, McBane was given permission to appear as the last presenter and he wasted little time in challenging comments from a Health Canada official.

"There are no independent studies or assessment on GMOs," said McBane.

Paul Mayers, acting director general of the food directory for Health Canada, told the committee Wednesday that Health Canada has verified the safety of GMO products.

But McBane dismissed those assurances.

"There are no independent studies or assessments. He's saying they are safe because Monsanto says they are safe. He's placing a blind trust in the company."

Monsanto is a huge, multi-national food producer which is also leading the way in research and use of GMOs in Canada and the U.S.A.

Without proof on GMO safety, McBane said there should be an immediate moratorium.

"The law says demonstrate safety first, but Health Canada is saying first demonstrate it's not safe. They've shifted the burden onto the public."

He explained that Health Canada has no capability to do testing, and there are no protocols or scientific methodology on GMOs.

"This is a totally new area so there should be a moratorium. If they are wrong, the liability damages would be considerable."

He was also upset that Health Canada won't allow products to be labeled *GMO*-free.

"It's an abdication of responsibility and I would argue it's illegal not to follow the food and drug act on labeling food. People have a right to know what they are eating."

Health Canada has been wrong too many times on too many products to be trusted on this issue, warned McBane.

McBane also spoke at a public forum Wednesday night in Charlottetown where he urged Islanders to be active in the coming federal election.

"Don't trust a politician who says it doesn't matter who delivers your health care. Private-for-profit delivery is more dangerous and more expensive. Every time a doctor or nurse leaves public health care to go into private health care, it makes the waits longer."


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