My hon. colleague says that is just not true. In a good number of instances it is the only way to make it work because there are some businesses that, quite frankly, want to save every little bit of cost and therefore deny the right of consumers to know what they are eating in this case.
Approximately 90% of Canadians want to see labelling on food products that are genetically modified. For a variety of reasons over the years different types of labelling were suggested. At one point I asked, is it that important to even mention that there is a slight bit of nut oil in something? Then we saw tremendous allergic reactions to different nut products. We were more conscious of it and were not willing to see even one person die as a result of an allergic reaction simply because people could not find out if that product had nut oil in it.
Over time I have come to realize that it is crucially important that whatever consumers need in the labelling process it should be made possible for them to make an informed decision as to whether or not they would consume that product. We as a Parliament must ensure that the information is there. Voluntary labelling would not cut it. What happens within a society is, if there are a good number of products that are voluntarily labelled, there is a tendency for the public to think that the government has already established that foods must be labelled, so if it does not say it, we are okay. Quite frankly, that is not the case.
There are a number of Canadians out there to whom it has been brought to light on numerous different issues where they thought something existed because it was always done that way, but there was no legal responsibility and, as a result, they suffered the consequences. That is what the hon. member for Davenport has indicated in his years of experience in the House and within the environmental aspect of things.
I put a lot of value on his experience. The fact that he would come before us and say that we need mandatory labelling itself is a point that the government should be looking at. It is not often that I will sing the praises of any individual from the governing side, however the hon. member for Davenport has been extremely good in this regard, as have my colleagues from Palliser and Winnipeg North.
There is no question that 90% of Canadians want to see mandatory labelling. The government is ignoring that. Some 75% of processed foods found on our supermarket shelves contain some kind of genetically modified product. I must tell the House that since this debate has become more open I have started looking at things and reading more about it. I am shocked at the number of genetically modified products.
I know people who have different symptoms that are sometimes related to some of the things found in genetically modified products, or there is an indication that they may come from genetically modified products. Those individuals deserve the right to know so that they can make informed decisions as to whether they want to take chances with their lives. There is also an indication that some genetically modified products, apart from having allergenic concerns, may be toxic or even carcinogenic.
It is not a matter of saying that we do not know for sure because there have not been enough studies. I do not know about everyone else, but when I see that kind of wording I think, yes, but I have the right to make the decision as to whether or not I will be a guinea pig. I do not want myself being a guinea pig and I do not want my children being guinea pigs while someone decides whether or not it is a problem. I do not want my grandchildren being guinea pigs.
We should have the right to make informed decisions as to whether or not we would take those chances with our lives. If other people still want to take those chances, so be it, but surely we must allow individuals to have the right to make those choices by having an informed labelling process which would allow them to make those choices based on proper information.
I am looking forward to hearing further debate on this. The real disappointment is that it is not votable. I wish to acknowledge again the work in this area by the hon. member for Davenport.