London (01.06.17) – After all the huffing and puffing, arguments and counter arguments, in many of the American states over whether or not to legislate for mandatory labelling of food products containing material derived from GM-plants, it was pleasure to learn a couple of weeks ago that the Canadian Parliament has voted against approving such mandatory labelling by 216 votes to 67. Opponents of the bill, which was introduced by a New Democratic Party MP, said the legislation was too vaguely worded, while supporters argued that the wording offered important "latitude."

The defeated bill proposed that the Food and Drugs Act should be altered such that “No person shall sell any food that is genetically modified unless its label contains the information prescribed under paragraph 30(1)(b.2).” The specifics were to be defined by the Health Committee and government (2).

And then, barely a week later, surprisingly good news from Switzerland where GM-free production is one of the cornerstones of the national food although research is permitted. Agroscope (3), an agricultural research institute has been exploring the use of cisgenetics (gene editing; cis, modifying an organism’s own genes as distinct from transgenetics the sin, in some peoples’ eye of transferring genes between organisms) to render various strains of potato resistant to blight and perhaps also to other fugal diseases. The research is said to be going well (4).

Sources:

1. Elaine Watson (18.05.17). GMO labeling bill defeated in Canadian parliament. Food Navigator-USA (http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Regulation/GMO-labeling-bill-defeated-in-Canadian-parliament)

2. Bill C-291. Parliament of Canada (14.06.17) (http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-291/first-reading)

3. Agroscope. Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (no date) (https://www.agroscope.admin.ch/agroscope/en/home.html)

4. Adrian Krebs (03.03.17). GVO-Kartoffeln wecken _im ersten Jahr Hoffnung. Bauern Zeitung Online (https://www.bauernzeitung.ch/news-archiv/2017/gvo-kartoffeln-wecken-im-ersten-jahr-hoffnung/)

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