May 25, 2013
Bill C-474 Debate and Results Blog!
Wednesday March 17, 2010
The below are quick notes taken by CBAN during the debate - You can now click here to read the official debate transcript.
Conclusion: The Bill was not referred to Committee. Instead the Liberals delayed action and the Conservatives oppossed. There will be another hour of debate in April or sooner. The Conservative Party spoke against the Bill. The Liberal Party mostly spoke against the Bill but left the door open to a debate in Committee...Thank you to everyone for taking action, as you can see your MPs still need to get the message.
6:43 Larry Miller, Conservative, Agriculture Committee Chair: We work with farmers, we listen to farmers. Our Minister has been taking an aggressive approach to opening up markets. We need to be very cautious about including any non-scientific issues like public attitudes - this has to be resolved by industry, not government. GMOs have been around for 50 years and are important.
6:32 Jim Maloway, Manitoba, NDP: Contrary to the shrill comments from the Conservatives, I think we will see support for this Bill. The Liberal critic was more negative but he too indicated support for the Bill to Committee. Once again the Govenrnment is at the short end of the stick as there are three Parties that can send this Bill to Committee. The Member has said he is open to amendments and debate in Committee. This is the way we should be approaching these issues. This Bill seems to me a no-brainer - why would you invest before investigating? Argentina is a success story in that they includes these questions. This Government does not look at what works before they react. Perhaps when we do get this Bill to Committee the Conservatives will open their minds - in a minority or majority we should be able to listen.
The majority of EU public remains opposed to GE and we are quite aware of their concerns. This is a risk in agriculture and why would you take a chance in alienating a major part of your market?
6: 23 Andre Bellavance, Bloc: The Liberals have recommended the Bill to Committee and this is what needs to be done. The Conservatives are rejecting the Bill out of hand. The Bloc accepts the principle of the Bill.
This is a relevant Bill, it is a first step. The Federal Government should follow the precautionary principle.
We have a dominant position in the world in GMOs and so it is important that we consider our future - we are the 5th largest producer of GM and we have to maintain our markets. Argentina, one of the largest GM growing countries, has a law very similar to what Bill C-474 proposes.
When a country shuts down its markets - we don't have the key to the door.
We want to increase our export markets and this should be a priority for our government. We would like the opportunity to look at the Bill in Committee.
6: 17 Francis Valeriote, Liberal, on Agriculture Committee: The content and ramifications of the Bill are complex. The wording is problematic. The Member Atamanenko has stated that the Bill was developed in response to the Flax contamination issue. The EU - 70% of our flax export market - was closed due to contamination...if this Bill had been the law at the time, and the study of impact on the market for flax would the knowledge have stopped GE flax and prevented market disruptions?
The Flax was never approved for sale in Canada so this Bill would not have helped .... CBAN: - oh dear Valeriote is very wrong, GE flax was registered for sale in Canada and flax farmers forced it off the market via de registration. Does the Liberal Party not understand how the flax contamination crisis happened? It appears not.
Canada's reputation internationally relies on our science based regulatory approach.
The Bill does not describe what "market" or "harm" means, we look forward to more debate in the House and maybe debate in Committee.
There is clear consensus that we must strengthen and preserve our export markets. The issue raised deserves discussion - the Bill is well-intended but not well written.
Pierre Lemieux for the Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz: This Bill raises a complex and important issue that affects farmers and the ag sector. Safety comes first. Canada has one of the most stringent regulatory systems in the world...This Bill raises the question of how best to manage the market impacts. But we need a process based on sound science. The Canola Growers Association warned to keep the politics out of the decisions. There are technical flaws in the Bill also.
Implications for Canada's credibility internationally. Sound science is the basis for any trade dispute including the dispute at the WTO we took against the EU and our current dispute with Korea on Mad Cow disease.
Bill C-474 would discourage innovation in the sector. We cannot introduce non-safety, non-science subjective considerations. Industry is best positioned to assess the market risks, on a crop-by-crop basis.
Scott Simms, Liberal: Wouldn't this stifle research and development?
6:04 Atamanenko: Regardless of scare tactics that the member uses, of course the Bill has to be fine tuned. We can build on the model of Argentina.
6:02 David Anderson, Conservative: Alex is trying to scare the farm community. This is about the NDP's opposition to GE, not about protecting farmers. This will bring our regulation in the wrong direction, our decisions will no longer be based on science. This Bill is directly vague. The Bill is onerous and anti-farmer. What would have happened in the canola industry if this Bill had been in place?
6:00 Alex Atamanenko is pointing out that the precedent already exists for Bill C-474. The Government of Argentina has a policy of examining the impact of a GE crop on their foreign markets. Argentina is the 3rd largest grower of GE crops and has not suffered from this policy. We need to get the Bill before the Committee so we can look at the details. This is about the pocketbook - people say that this is emotional or political - this might be the case in Europe but here we need to consider the economic reality for farmers.
5:50 MP Alex Atamanenko is speaking to his Bill and explaining how much flax farmers are hurting from contamination - something his Bill aims to prevent. He is explaining the negative consequences of GE alfalfa contamination. Alfalfa is the most important forage crop in Canada..The Manitoba Forage Council has already passed a resolution that they will hold Ottawa responsible for any economic harm due to the release of GE alfalfa.
Mr. Atamanenko is asking for an objective look at the question of economic harm to farmers - every year we see new contamination incidents. The controversy over GE continues across the world...this affects our export markets.
Six EU member states have banned growing of GE corn and the Swiss Parliament has reestablished the national moratorium up to 2013.
Flax farmers understood this market reality very clearly. They took steps to prevent this scenario. We should follow the flax farmer's example - acknowledge their foresight. We let them down.
Industry hoped the market would become so flooded that peoples would just surrender. But Europe and other countries are not surrendering. No amount of wishful thinking on the part of industry will change this fact.