New Democrat agriculture critic addresses GMOs

Over the last few years I’ve received hundreds of letters, calls and emails about genetically modified organisms.

I have a number of concerns about GMOs but in my view the bottom line is that people are entitled to know what they consuming. I fully support legislation that requires food labels to disclose if the contents include GMOs. Governments must ensure food labels provide enough information so people can make informed decisions about what they are eating or feeding to their families.

Food labeling falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal government. Since 2001, New Democrat Parliamentarians have introduced Private Member’s Bills calling for mandatory labeling legislation of GMO foods eight times.

Currently, BC Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko’s Bill, C-257, has been introduced and read for the first time in the House of Commons. This Bill calls for an amendment to the Food and Drugs Act that requires the government to establish if food or a component of the food is genetically modified and if so, the Bill states that:

no person shall sell the food or a food product of which the food is a component in a package, unless a label in the prescribed form containing the following notice is affixed to the package: This product or one or more of its components have been genetically modified.

GMOs are of concern to many British Columbians. As the provincial Opposition Critic for Agriculture, I am actively working on this file.

For example, on November 16, 2011, I submitted the following Private Member’s motion in the BC Legislature:

Be it resolved that this House urges the Government to track GMO seed crops in British Columbia.

It is important that we have accurate and comprehensive information about GMO agricultural production in this province. It is a first step to understanding the ‘facts on the ground’ and it is very important to organic farmers who can lose their organic certification if their crops become ‘contaminated’ by GMOs.

I have also actively opposed the introduction of the genetically-modified “Arctic Apple.” On May 15 2012, I rose in the Legislature and pressed the Agriculture Minister to publicly reject genetically modified apples in BC.

I also drafted a petition about this issue that received over two thousand signatures in just two weeks.

The petition stated:

To the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, in Legislature Assembled:

1. We, the undersigned petitioners, do hereby register our opposition to the unconfined environmental release of genetically modified apples in British Columbia.

2. We join with the BC Fruit Tree Association to oppose the commercial release of the “Arctic Apple”, which has been genetically modified to prevent its flesh from browning.

3. We respectfully request that the BC Minister of Agriculture take all steps possible to prevent the commercial planting of this crop.

I will continue to speak out on this issue.

Please share your thoughts and concerns with me:

Kind regards,


Lana Popham
MLA for Saanich South and Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture