Bill C-287 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act (automatic defibrillators)
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.
This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.
Beth Phinney Liberal
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Introduction and First Reading
(This bill did not become law.)
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
Private Members' Business
February 27th, 2003 / 5:30 p.m.
Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should take the necessary steps to ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to Motion M-239, which asks that the federal government take the necessary steps, as soon as possible, to ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
On January 20, 2000, the final text of the Cartagena protocol on the prevention of biotechnological risks related to the Convention on Biological Diversity was agreed to during an extraordinary conference of the parties to the convention.
The objective of the Cartagena protocol is to protect the environment and to ensure the safe transfer, handling and use of living genetically modified organisms resulting from biotechnology, according to the precautionary approach.
Moreover, the protocol would allow countries to implement rules and procedures holding developers accountable for the costs and responsibilities of potential damage to health and the environment.
Finally, it would establish controls, as well as advanced agreement procedures on international exchanges of GMOs.
The adoption of the final text took more than four years of difficult negotiations and is a major move toward protecting global biodiversity. So far, 44 countries have ratified the Cartagena protocol; the number of countries necessary for the agreement to take effect is 50.
We must condemn Canada's attitude throughout these negotiations. The Canadian organization for civil societies said, and I quote:
As the main speaker for the Miami Group, which includes six member countries, Canada has given the impression that it valued its perceived economic interests in the export of genetically modified agricultural products more than the protection of world biodiversity and public health. This attitude significantly tarnished Canada's reputation among convention signatories and, more generally, among members of the United Nations Environment Program.
So far, the main producers, namely those of the Miami Group, have preferred to react with a surprising move forward. So, in the absence of rigorous biosafety requirements, over the past six years, they have multiplied by 30 the areas set aside for transgenic crops, from 1.7 million hectares in 1996, to 52.6 million in 2001. In 2000, already close to 16% of the world's cultivated areas were transgenic, with 30 million hectares in the United States, nine million in Argentina and three million in Canada.
Moreover, since these first generation GMOs are primarily made up of soybean, with 58%, corn, with 23% and canola, with 6%, they were introduced as oil, lecithin or starch in over 60% of North America's industrial foods, this unbeknownst to consumers, who are becoming increasingly suspicious.
I should also mention that genetically modified wheat will soon be introduced, even though its development and marketing have taken longer than those of the other major crops, namely corn, canola or soybean.
While many types of transgenic corn are currently being developed, it is the Monsanto wheat, called spring wheat, which could be the first one to be marketed. Incidentally, Monsanto recently applied to Agriculture Canada for approval.
There is already a major movement opposing the introduction of transgenic wheat, including spring wheat. That movement includes, among others, a number of stakeholders who are known for their moderate views.
Many farmers are strongly opposed, furthermore, to the introduction of Roundup Ready wheat. They fear having serious problems with weed control despite the claim that Roundup Ready wheat will make weed control easier. Consumer and environmental advocacy groups are worried about potential damage to health and the environment.
Implementation of the Cartagena protocol would also help connect the distribution of genetically modified organisms or living modified organisms to the precautionary principle in order to allow countries to ban GMO imports, if they believe that there are health and environmental risks.
Many countries including Croatia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Korea have been threatened by the United States with trade sanctions from the World Trade Organization for having included the precautionary approach in their GMO import legislation.
More recently, the United States asked for Canada's support in a future challenge of the World Trade Organization following the European Union's banning of GMO imports. We believe that, in considering the possibility of teaming up with the United States, the federal government is working against the interests of farmers and consumers in Quebec and Canada.
What the Americans are trying to do is block implementation of the Cartagena protocol, which is not under the auspices of the World Trade Organization and which the United States never needed. The United States tried to bypass negotiations on biosafety and to get trade in GMO products to go through the World Trade Organization.
Attempts by both the United States and the Miami Group failed. Implementation of the Cartagena protocol would prevent threats of WTO challenges by certain countries against others wishing to ban GMO imports based on the precautionary principle.
On November 2, 2000, the Quebec ministers of the environment revenue, and the national capital region, as well as its international relations minister, Louise Beaudoin, announced the Quebec government's decision to support Canada's signing of the Cartagena protocol on biosafety.
Both ministers also announced that work has started in order to provide Quebec with a strategy for enforcing this protocol. Noting Quebec's commitment to implement the Cartagena protocol quickly, the minister at the time, Mr. Bégin, said: “Today the Government of Quebec is the first government in Canada to formally indicate its support for signing the protocol, and implement a concrete mechanism for developing a government strategy to prevent biotechnological risks”.
Minister Beaudoin said that “the Government of Quebec intends to implement the protocol in Quebec, in addition to playing a prominent role in the final stages of this important international agreement that sets out rules governing the circulation, manipulation and use of genetically modified organisms”.
Moreover, Quebec's Department of the Environment has been given responsibility for coordinating the work of the Interdepartmental Committee on Biodiversity.
Today, with strong support from the Réseau québécois contre les OGM and Greenpeace, I am calling on Canada to ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, as proposed in the motion which I am sponsoring and which is being debated today in the House.
By ratifying the protocol, the federal government will acquire an effective legal tool for regulating the manipulation of living organisms modified in Canada and guaranteeing the accountability of developers for possible harm caused to health and the environment.
There is currently no rigorous biosafety legislation in Canada, while genetically modified crops cover an area of 3 million hectares. It is extremely difficult to guarantee full segregation of GM crops that can contaminate neighbouring crops at any time during transportation, handling or cross pollination.
Implementation of the Cartagena protocol will help decrease the risks of contamination caused by GM crops.
Motion M-239 being debated today is supported by Greenpeace, as I indicated, and the Réseau québécois contre les OGM, which is a network of roughly twenty organizations. Eric Darier, the network's spokesperson, said this morning:
—that the federal government must not be as hesitant about ratifying the Cartagena protocol as it was with the Kyoto protocol.
He is right.
Mr. Darier added:
—that the Prime Minister will add ratification of the Kyoto protocol on biosafety to his political legacy. It is important to put an end to the dissemination of GMOs in Canada. In the meantime, the government could start by imposing mandatory labelling of GMO containing foods, as 90% of Canadians are demanding.
In this connection, I would like to remind hon. members that, on October 18, 1999, my colleague, the hon. Bloc Quebecois member for Louis-Hébert, Hélène Alarie, got a parliamentary motion adopted calling upon the government to make the labelling of genetically modified foods mandatory and to carry out indepth studies on their long term effect on health and the environment. This was a first in the Canadian Parliament and opened up a debate among MPs on this issue so vital to environmental health.
A few years later, with his Bill C-287, the hon. member for Davenport hearkened back to the position of the Bloc Quebecois. We are in favour of mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods so that the consumer can have freedom of choice. As well, inspection and in depth testing to assess the long term effects of GMOs on human health and the environment are necessary. Finally, there needs to be strict legislation on the safe use of GMOs and an independent structure of public information and education.
On January 20, 2000, the Minister of the Environment made the following statement:
We believe that a strong Biosafety Protocol under the Biodiversity Convention is in the interests of all nations.
Canada wants a system that allows every country to feel secure as these technologies develop. All nations should be able and encouraged to make their own decisions regarding the importation of living modified organisms or LMOs with the help of a strong protocol.
That is what the Minister of Environment Canada had to say on January 20, 2000.
I will close by making it clear that the government has a unique opportunity today to honour the commitments it made in January 2000 on the occasion of the signing of the Cartagena protocol. It has a unique opportunity to honour its commitments by supporting my Motion M-239, which calls upon the government to ratify the Cartagena protocol on biosafety.
Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business
December 9th, 2002 / 11:05 a.m.
Charles Caccia Davenport, ON
moved that Bill C-220, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (genetically modified food), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-220 is to require mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.
Mandatory labelling would ensure that the genetic history of a food or food ingredient is recorded and traced through all stages of distribution, manufacture, packaging and, finally, sale. These steps would then ensure the integrity of the documentation trail, accurate labelling and would also prevent incorrectly labelled material from reaching the consumer. The Minister of Health would thus be able to monitor the presence of genetically modified foods in the food chain and conduct intensive research into the potential long term effects of genetically modified foods on human health.
Public concern with regard to genetically modified organisms, commonly referred to GMOs, is reflected in the result of public opinion polls. Canadians overwhelmingly support mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods. The most recent poll commissioned by the Government of Canada reveals that 84% of Canadians support labelling genetically modified foods.
As members may recall, Bill C-220 was introduced during the last session of Parliament as Bill C-287, which the procedure committee saw fit to deem votable. Bill C-287 received 91 votes in this Chamber and prompted the government to request a study by the Standing Committee on Health.
The study so far is not completed and is in limbo because last September Parliament was prorogued. In the meantime, the government relies on appointed bodies to study the question of mandatory labelling. One so-called consultative body the government turned to is the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee, to which I will refer to from now on as CBAC.
CBAC was charged with initiating a national dialogue on issues relating to biotechnology, including labelling. Its discussion paper and workshops produced very little response. Last August CBAC recommended against mandatory labelling. It said that it was too expensive, that it would lead to trade wars, that industry was not ready for it and that it would be better to go for voluntary labelling and check back in five years perhaps to see whether mandatory labelling might be advisable then.
While industry and lobbyists argue that mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods will result in consumers having fewer choices in future, their claim is also to the effect that labelling GM foods will result in mass consumer rejection of these products. However research exists to disprove this claim that, quite the contrary, labelling will not only recognize consumers' rights to know, but also, when given an informed choice, suspicion and reticence by consumers would be dispelled and they might even accept GM products.
Had the government decided to label GM foods as of the day they were introduced on the market, we would not have the problem of consumer acceptance. Consumers' reluctance, as we find it today, can be linked to the government's preference to deny consumers information about the food they eat.
In addition to this problem there is another one. Industry seems unwilling to recognize the fact that Canada is increasingly losing agricultural export markets because of our unwillingness to label genetically modified foods.
Moreover, other countries are developing the agricultural capability to capture these markets where they want the labelling of genetically modified food. Canadian canola farmers, for example, would benefit from mandatory labelling because presently they are unable to sell their product to the European Union. At present it is difficult to know precisely the economic losses being incurred as a result of the loss of export markets, but they are probably considerable given the fact that 37 countries, including the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, China, Mexico and Japan, now have in place or are developing the necessary legislation requiring mandatory labelling of genetically modified food.
Furthermore, we have the paradoxical situation whereby we label products for export so as to conform to foreign mandatory labelling regimes, and yet continue to tell Canadians here at home that it cannot be done for domestic purposes. Of course this inconsistency erodes public confidence.
The lack of consumer acceptance of genetically modified food has led a number of companies not to buy genetically modified ingredients. Canadian companies are not able to supply such companies because they cannot obtain from the Canadian regulatory authorities a certification that would say that their product is genetically modified organism free even when it is.
The case of Unibroue, a Quebec based brewery, illustrates the damage of the absence of a mandatory labelling system. It was notified by the government of France that it could export its beer to France only if it provided a certification that it did not contain genetically modified ingredients. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency certified Unibroue's beer as free of genetically modified ingredients. However the very same agency unexpectedly went to court to prevent Unibroue from using this certification and as a result Unibroue had to seek a European genetically modified organism free certification. The lack of mandatory labelling almost cost Unibroue its entry into the entire European Union markets.
While the Europeans now benefit from knowing that Unibroue's beer is genetically modified organism free, Canadian consumers are denied this information. In addition, concerned about the unclear genetic integrity of Canadian corn, Unibroue had to import from France corn certified as non-genetically modified. Thus we are importing corn of which we produce plenty.
The conclusion for the rationale behind Bill C-220 is simply that Canadians do want to know what they eat and Bill C-220 addresses this right. Hopefully the health committee will conduct its study and provide recommendations for the government on the desirability of having mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.
The fact is clear, whether the committee conducts its study or not, that five years, as recommended by CBAC, the committee I referred to earlier, is too long for Canadians to wait just for the possibility of introducing mandatory labelling by the year 2008.
The government, I submit, should act now in the public interest, and also in the interest, and this is never sufficiently and strongly enough underlined, of Canadian exporters, as the example I gave of Unibroue earlier indicates, by introducing mandatory labelling next year so that it can apply to the products we export and so that the consumer in Canada is also made aware of what we are facing domestically on the shelves.
To conclude, it seems to me that we are badly behind other nations on the labelling of genetically modified organisms, and procrastinating the appropriate action is definitely not in the public interest.
November 4th, 2002 / 3 p.m.
Beth Phinney Hamilton Mountain, ON
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-287, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act (automatic defibrillators).
Mr. Speaker, I would like to reintroduce, seconded by my hon. colleague from Thunder Bay—Superior North, my bill to amend the Aeronautics Act, which would require all commercial passenger services in Canada with flights over one hour to carry automated external defibrillators providing passengers and crew with lifesaving technology.
Many airlines, such as American, Qantas and British Airways, already carry automated defibrillators on board. This enables trained staff to immediately treat passengers suffering from cardiac arrest rather than delaying treatment until the plane reaches its destination or is forced to land.
I hope all members will support the bill when it comes before the House.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
October 23rd, 2002 / 4:05 p.m.