OTTAWA, Canada, September 3, 2003 -- CropChoice news -- Globe and Mail,
08/28/03: A March, 2003, government paper prepared
for the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food and
marked "secret," obtained under the Access
to Information law by Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin, was
cited as saying that growing consumer anxiety over genetically
engineered foods threatens to sideswipe Canada's multibillion-dollar
agri-food industry, stating, "Consumers are becoming
more worried that they can't distinguish between GE
[genetically engineered] and non-GE products. These
concerns could precipitate a loss of confidence in the
integrity of the Canadian food system, which could be
very disruptive to the domestic system as well as Canada's
ability to export to demanding markets. There is a pressing
need to immediately address these concerns to maintain
Canada's markets and to uphold the Canada brand."
The story says that department officials were unavailable
for comment and it is unclear who wrote the report.
The story adds that the Canadian government is a major
cheerleader for genetically engineered foods and has
even launched a challenge before the World Trade Organization,
along with the Americans, to try to pry open European
markets for these products.
The paper was further cited as warning that Canada's
regulatory regime has fallen behind in ensuring that
the public and export markets trust genetically engineered
products, and that Ottawa must realize that the majority
of consumers at home and abroad are still leery of these
products, stating, "Biotechnology has made important
advances, but there is no broad market acceptance (domestic
and international) of genetically engineered (GE) products.
The first generation of products were commercially introduced
with minimal consumer interest, but now these products
are being more closely scrutinized at home and abroad.
Producers are becoming worried about losing markets
and losing choice over what they can produce. The production
of GE canola is currently adversely affecting the value
of non-GE canola in some markets."