As Ag Canada gags its scientists in an effort to assist "reporters to find the right person to speak on various issues", here's more Canadian style attempted suppression & repression.
Incidentally, if you were wondering why the UK Royal Society were reviewing their own GM food report, the answer very probably lies here - the need to trump Canada's RS report which came to very different conclusions.
Hardline Canadian GM proponents Shane Morris and Douglas Powell have been trying to drum up as much "anti" as the biotech brigade can muster to force retraction. Item 2's some typical fare from the bio-boosters hate campaign against the Canadian RS.
Note the wonderful Orwellianism: 'The story states that "Canada, the third largest producer of GM crops, has no law requiring labeling of GM foods." Canadian law, in fact, clearly states that any GM crop or novel food deemed to be harmful or less nutritious than its conventional counterpart... must be clearly labeled.' Needless to say no GM crops are so deemed and so no Gm ingredients are required to be labelled!
1. CFIA attempt to compel GM-FREE label withdrawal fails
2. LOBLAWS ORDERS GMO-FREE LABELS REMOVED
3. GM FOOD REPORT BACKLASH
1. REQUEST OF AN INTERLOCUTORY INJUNCTION AGAINST UNIBROUE - THE CFIA DOWNSUITED IN COURT
June 12, 2001
From a press release
CHAMBLY- The honorable Judge Pierre Viau of the Quebec Superior Court has dismissed, this afternoon, the application of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) aimed at compelling Unibroue to withdraw from all its publicity, the reference "Certified GMO-free by CFIA".
This decision was taken without Unibroue attorneys having to present their plea, the Judge considering irrelevant the CFIA position.
2. LOBLAWS ORDERS GMO-FREE LABELS REMOVED
June 13, 2001
Globe and Mail
Kevin Cox and Ingrid Pertiz With a report from Colin Freeze
HALIFAX and MONTREAL -- Loblaws, Canada's largest grocery retailer, has, according to this story, ordered its suppliers to remove or cover by Sept. 1 any labels that identify food as being free of genetically modified ingredients.
The story says that the move has angered many of the organic food processors that market their breakfast cereals, pastas and other products in the store's health food department as being free of chemical additives and genetically modified material.
Nature's Path Foods Inc., a British-Columbia-based company that produces organic breakfast cereals, was cited as saying some Canadian grocery chains pressed the company to alter the labels on its products.
The section of the label that says the products are made without genetically modified organisms has been blacked out with a felt pen.
Spokesman Arran Stephens was cited as saying some large grocery chains warned the company that its products would be yanked from shelves if it didn't remove the reference to genetically modified organisms, adding, "We've sort of been bullied into this. We feel it's very important that consumers know if their food has been genetically tampered," but the company didn't want to risk cutting production and laying off employees.
Mr. Stephens noted that independent food stores and grocery chains in the United States welcome the GMO-free labels.
The story says that in a memo sent to suppliers in late January, Jamie Cooney, director of procurement of health food for Loblaws, said the products of distributors who didn't remove the non-GMO labels could be removed from the grocery chain's shelves, adding, "It is our position that until such time as a government and-or industry-supported definition of genetic modification exists in Canada we will not support product packaging containing non-GMO claims." The story adds that no one was available to comment for Loblaws yesterday.
In some Loblaws stores across the country the non-GMO stickers have been blacked out or covered.
The federal government has yet to establish a standard or a labelling policy for genetically modified foods, those that come from plants altered to resist pests or herbicides or to produce greater yields.
The story also notes that Ottawa suffered a setback yesterday in one of its attempts to control labelling of GMO foods when a Quebec judge quashed its bid for an injunction that would stop a beer maker from labelling and advertising its product as "certified GMO-free" by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The agency doesn't label or test consumer products for GMOs.
Unibroue Inc. has said that a manufacturer's certificate signed by a government food inspector proved that the CFIA says its product is GMO-free.
3. GM FOOD REPORT BACKLASH: THE ROYAL SOCIETY'S REPORT ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS HAS DRAWN HARSH CRITICISM FROM THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY. WHY DOES THE SOCIETY REMAIN SILENT?
June 13, 2001
Shane Morris and Douglas Powell
Surprise!" So Conrad Brunk, co-chairman of the now disbanded Royal Society's expert panel on genetically modified food, described the intense backlash to its report, Elements of Precaution: Recommendations for the Regulation of Food Biotechnology in Canada, released last February. The Royal Society report -- a document that more resembled a Greenpeace hatchet job than a reasoned analysis of the science surrounding GM issues -- aroused understandable outrage from this country's scientists. That Mr. Brunk should be surprised was in itself surprising, considering that the members of the Royal Society are intelligent people, and that its president, Bill Leiss, is an expert in risk communication. According to Professor Leiss's own writings, which identify five cardinal rules in good risk communication, Rule No. 2 is "risk issue forecasting." The Society's failure to forecast properly was the first in the Royal Society's catalogue of communication blunders.
After the release of the report, the expert panel proceeded to break three more rules of risk communication: The panel failed to "become fully engaged," to "be proactive," and to "stay in for the long haul" when dealing with the public. Instead, the Royal Society has apparently made a conscious decision to not respond publicly to the questions concerning the significant gaps and shortcomings in their report, to not explain its decisions, and to actually dissolve the panel. On those few occasions when panel members spoke publicly, usually as part of controlled presentations, it was often to say they were "misquoted" in the media fury that immediately followed the report's release (in one of those "misquotes," Canadians who ate GM foods were called guinea pigs). Yet never once did the Royal Society offer a clarification -- at least, not publicly. Was the panel oblivious, or was it deliberately trying to avoid attempting to defend the undefendable? Canadian and international scientists have raised many questions over the report, involving issues of serious scientific inaccuracies, incorrect citation of so-called facts, and a serious failure to understand systems and procedures used to regulate genetically modified foods in Canada. One letter to the Royal Society by six eminent scientists stated "The authors also clearly fail to understand the origins of the principles and procedures that are used to assess the safety of genetically modified foods. Pivotal scientific literature pertaining to this matter is either rejected out of hand or not quoted at all." The letter also outlined many of the scientific papers that were missing from the panel's report.
This lack of understanding and the feeble communications efforts were on display in an article in the University of British Columbia's official publication, UBC News, in which Royal Society expert panel co-chairman Brian Ellis, a professor of plant sciences at UBC, was interviewed. The story states that "Canada, the third largest producer of GM crops, has no law requiring labeling of GM foods." Canadian law, in fact, clearly states that any GM crop or novel food deemed to be harmful or less nutritious than its conventional counterpart, or created using a gene from a known allergen, such as a nut, must be clearly labeled.
The scientific inaccuracies contained within the report concerned many prominent scientists. For example, R.K. Downey's letter, reproduced nearby, was co-signed by 10 other leading plant scientists. It remains unanswered to date. This correspondence was released by Mr. Downey, not by the Royal Society, which has still failed to release any such correspondence, despite spending in excess of $300,000 in public funds, and despite repeated calls within its own report for openness, transparency and democratic decision-making. The report was published in February, and is available at http://www.rsc.ca.
But reports are not issued in a vacuum or without subsequent discussion.
Because of the Royal Society's lack of engagement, we collected responses -- positive, negative or otherwise -- and published them on our Food Safety Network Web site at http://www.plant.uoguelph.ca/safefood/gmo/royalsoc.htm.
The Royal Society report makes some excellent recommendations to help Canadian society garner the benefits of genetically engineered crops while actively minimizing the risks. But the failure to properly explore many of the issues leaves the expert panel vulnerable to appropriation by a variety of groups, most with an interest in politics rather than in the production of safe, high quality food. As such, the Royal Society expert panel report has been making the global media rounds and is repeatedly invoked by activist groups around the world -- and in Canada -- as a reason to ban genetically engineered foods. Those stories can also be found on our Web site.
The Royal Society, meanwhile, does nothing to correct those groups' politicized views, or its own tattered reputation.
Douglas Powell is an assistant professor and director of the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph. Shane Morris is a research assistant at the Food Safety Network. ---