Protesters in the ’March Against Monsanto’ in Toronto, May 24, 2014, express concern about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Protesters in the ’March Against Monsanto’ in Toronto, May 24, 2014, express concern about genetically modified organisms in their food (GMOs).
Photo Credit: (Mark Blinch/Reuters

GMO labelling coming to Canada?

Pierre Luc Dusseault says Canadians want to know if their food is genetically modified, or made with GMO ingredients.

He is a member of Parliament for the federal New Democratic Party (NDP).

He has just introduced a private members bill in the House of Commons to have mandatory labelling of food products to indicate the presence of GMO’s.

New Democratic Party Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Pierre-Luc Dusseault, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Sherbrooke, Quebec © supplied

Dusseault says he seeks something for Canada similar to the law about to come into effect in the US state of Vermont.

That small state is the first in the U.S. to enact laws requiring food product labels to indicate if they contain genetically modified/engineered ingredients.

The state law will come into effect in July in spite of a massive legal effort by food manufacturers to block the law at the federal level.

Most producers will comply and have said that because it is too difficult to label products for one small state, their products will be labelled for distribution across the entire US. Other producers say they will change the ingredients to replace the GMO ingredients with non-GMO ones.

In Canada Dusseault’s proposal was introduced and accepted this month for debate in the House of Commons.

This in itself is a challenge as most such ‘private member’s bills’ never make it to that stage, and if so, face other hurdles and almost never get passed into law.

Although a member of the opposition NDP, such private members bills do not usually require that other parliamentarians vote along party lines, thus the majority Liberal party government members could vote in favour.

The proposal is being met with some resistance in Canada. CropLife Canada is the trade association representing plant biotechnology developers and  manufacturers and crop pest control industries.

Labelling for US State of Vermont showing the product has GMO ingredients.
New labelling for US State of Vermont. Red arrow shows the added information on the label indicating the product has GMO ingredients. © Price Chopper

Ian Affleck, is the association’s managing director of science and regulatory affairs for plant biotechnology. Quoted by Susan Mann in ‘Better Farming’ he says labelling in Canada is concerned with food safety issues and to specify nutritional Information. He says because GMOs are considered safe by government agencies like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA),  “it doesn’t fit with why we label foods in Canada”.  He says mandatory GMO labelling would therefore give consumers the impression there is something unsafe about GMOs

He also says there is nothing preventing manufacturers from labelling their products as not containing any GMOs.

Dusseault says it’s about transparency and providing consumers with more information, and he says, it’s something consumers have told him that they want to see.

He notes that there have been previous attempts to bring the subject up in the House of Commons, but they were never debated.

If his bill is debated later this year, it will be the first such discussion on GMO labelling in the House.

His proposal still has a long way to go and hurdles to overcome however

Second reading  would then be in early 2017, and if it makes past that stage it would go to a committee for scrutiny, then back to the House for third reading, and if passed, would go to the Senate for review before return to the House and possible passage into law.

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39 comments on “GMO labelling coming to Canada?
  1. Avatar Gerrit Jonker says:

    Please ask your MP to support Bill C-291. See:

  2. Avatar S. Agar says:

    Why aren’t more people rising up and demanding that companies label GMO foods? What kind of legacy are we leaving our children and future generations? Most are ignorant as to what GMO’S are.
    Please fight for labelling of these foods and educate the public about these foods and how they affect the land and people’s lives.

  3. Avatar Joan Schindel says:

    The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency are fully aware that most of our food now contains glyphosate, the poison used to spray genetically modified crops as well as crops like wheat and peas. The poison is now in everything including vaccines because our animals are being fed GM food, it is in our meat and dairy as well as our cereal crops. All processed and packaged foods cintain poison including all baby
    cereal. This has to be addressed. Canadian food, according to the CFIA testing is the most heavily poisoned food in the world. I think we at the very least, have the right to know this so we can act accordingly.

  4. Avatar Rob says:

    I definitely think GMOs should be labelled. It’s our right to know. Our politicians should start listening to the people that elected them. That’s their job – to represent us. In time, like tobacco, many GMOs will likely be shown to be detrimental to our health. It’s only fair that those of us that care about our health be given the information and be encouraged to eat the food that is proven safe. Evidence is mounting to show that GMOs are not as safe as the big companies want us to believe. Even more dangerous is the use of the glyphosate herbicide that is used on both GMO and non-GMO crops and that’s another battle we will have to fight. One would think that, given the crippling cost of healthcare to the government and taxpayer, our elected representatives would be far more critical and demanding of the research before rubber-stamping the approvals for GMOs and products like glyphosate. Our history is littered with examples of products considered safe by our scientists and approved by our governments that have resulted in devastating human suffering. GMO labelling would be one small step for man (and woman) and one giant step for mankind (and womankind).

  5. Avatar Gerrit Jonker says:

    I’m not holding my breath this time around. You see, although GMO labelling was clearly in the Party’s mandate, not a lot of NDP politicians seemed to want to talk about it while they were campaigning in last year’s federal election. Neither did Green Party politicians for that matter. What were they scared of? Losing votes? Both Partys just seemed to focus on the idea of introducing a national child care program. I’m not against creating such a program, but I think enacting GMO labelling laws are just as important, if not more. Anyway, I find that I’m a little apprehensive about jumping on the band wagon to support this again. Still; this new private members bill does offer those of us who want GMO labelling a bit of hope, doesn’t it? Oh well, the world doesn’t need quitters. I might as well support it. — lol

  6. Avatar Richard Haynes says:

    It is about time the Canadian Government listened to the Canadian people and brought up this bill. It is the absolute right of each and every person to have the RIGHT to know what is in the food they buy.

    • Avatar Gerrit Jonker says:

      They did. It seems that a lot of Canadians would rather smoke pot than get GMO labelling on the packaging of the food products they buy. It seems that a lot of females (and a few males, I suppose) would rather go gaga over a good-looking celebrity than be led by a real PM. I mean, c’mon! The federal Liberals didn’t even have mandatory GMO labelling listed as part of their mandate.

  7. Avatar Croce Riggi says:

    We have rights!!!! We have the right to know what we are eating and what we are feeding our children! No one has the right to take this away from us. We should have this basic God given right by nature.
    My name is Croce Riggi.

  8. Avatar Rita Grier says:

    Considered safe or not I think it should be noted on food labels. If water is an ingredient it has to be listed, as far as I know water is considered safer is it not?

  9. Avatar W Jonas says:

    I also wish to have the transparency of knowing that the food I purchase is free of BMOs and will shop at the grocery chain that only stocks that which is free of it

  10. Avatar Sam says:

    It took 50 years for the tobacco companies to admit that they were killing people with their products. Let’s not be so naive as to think these chemical companies aren’t cut from the same cloth. I have a right to know if food is GMO or not, and it’s MY choice to consume it or not. I have NO faith in the government’s judgement as to what is “safe”, or “an acceptable level”.
    GMO or Non-GMO is just as important as any other piece of mandatory information on the label. We have a right to it.
    Stand up and fight for it. And not in 50 years.

  11. Avatar Janet Jones says:

    I for one would like to see all foods labeled as genetically modified. This way I have a choice of whether of not to buy it. It has nothing to do with the safety of it. It is just my right to know.

  12. Avatar Carole Sauve says:

    Best thing that could happen to Canadians. ?

  13. Avatar Rita Grier says:

    If water is an ingredient, it has to be listed. If our orange juice is from concentrate or not, it has to be on the label. Wether gmo is safe or not is irrelevant, it’s the consumers choice, my choice.
    I want to know. I have a choice to buy foods containing aspartame, meats raised with hormones and, or antibiotics. This is a democratic society is it not? Time for our government to step up for the people it supposed to be working for.

  14. Avatar Diane Lefebvre says:

    Finally stepping up!!!! Way to go Pierre Luc Dusseault…wonder why Harper or TRUDEAU haven’t done it…..hmmmmmmmm

  15. Avatar Charles says:

    Several companies have announced that they will start adding GMO ingredients on their labels. Campbells Soups, Mars, Kellogg’s and General Mills have all started adding any GMO volunteeringly. If all food manufacturers followed this practice, there would be no need to pass a law requiring it.

    • Avatar MHamm says:

      Without laws we can’t believe anything they say. These greedy corporations have to be accountable for what the put on their labels. Voluntary labelling is not good enough!

  16. Avatar Serena says:

    So happy that someone is doing something about it.

  17. Avatar Ann-Marie Hunter says:

    Congratulations, Mr. Dusseault, for stepping up to present this bill that supports giving information about food products to Canadians! This is totally necessary and it recognizes people’s rights to know the quality of the food they are buying. I hope that the other members of Parliament will see fit to support this bill.

  18. Avatar Rick Dempsey says:

    hopefully this will give you some ammo:

  19. Avatar Jane Peters says:

    The more GMO labels the better. I hope GMO labels come to Canada. They need to come to America too.

  20. Avatar Ronald Wilson says:

    GMO labeling is long overdue in Canada! It is our right to know what we are eating. The next step must be the banning of ALL GMO crops!

    The science is in. GMO crops are NOT producing better yields. Science is indicating GMOs and their attendant chemical sprays, namely Roundup, are linked to cancers!.

    GMOs are all about gaining control of the world’s food supply. The statements in favour of GMOs are all lies and propaganda. This proves governments can be bought!

  21. Avatar Larry Cross says:

    With so many starving people on Earth, GMO should be welcomed. It results in increased production, better nutrition, fewer food pests. Members of parliament should make decisions based on scientific facts, not the opinion of one unreliable source. Why increase the cost of labeling good food just to please a small minority of consumers.

    • Avatar Ann-Marie Hunter says:

      Larry,”why increase labelling costs”? I’m pretty sure that labelling costs would not be increased by much – adding a line to a new label is nothing! And if it gives more information to the consumer it’s totally worth it! Those companies are responsible for informing their customers. If they truly believe that GMOs are harmless, then they should be proud of their use in their products and have no complaints about labelling as such!

    • Avatar D Gadbois says:

      wake up …allowable levels of glysophate in gmo foods are resulting in innumerable health concerns …how much does it cost to ink a box of $%^& cereal as gmo….red herring my friend …your and obvious shill

  22. Avatar Rene Albert says:

    Since I don’t trust politicians, when MP Dusseault of the NDP says that “Canadians” want laws requiring food product labels to indicate if they contain genetically modified/engineered ingredients, let him prove it. Cause I sure as hell never asked for it!

    I would on the other hand readily propose a new law to promptly evict from Parliament all those politicians proven by their constituents to be useless or crooked…

  23. Avatar Chris Foote says:

    It’s not fair to producers to label gmos because there is total scientific consensus that there in nothing inherently negative for health with GMOS. It would be like requiring a label for all food farmed by black people.

    • Avatar Ronald Wilson says:

      I do not agree. Always question who funded the ‘study’. It is noticeable that Monsanto funded studies all love GMOs! No surprise there. I think you need to broaden your reading list. Also 60+ nations have banned GMOs. I want labeling. I want to make my own choices, not an agrichemical company!

      • Avatar Wendy Evenden says:

        If genetic engineering of our food is so great, the manufacturers should be happy to flaunt it, wave it like a banner, instead of wanting to hide it like it’s a dirty secret. People just want to know what is in their food, why should they not be given this information?

  24. Avatar Dale says:

    There is way more to the debate than percieved safety of gm foods. There’s the issue of roundup, being sprayed at will on roundup ready crops, the use of roundup as a desiccant on food crops, the use of atrazine and roundup to clear weeds before planting which is in no way safe for the environment, effrcyivrly sttipping the doil of any nutrition gor he plant redulting in the need for more and more synyhetic fertilizers and becsuse hedoil has such poor sttucture these synthetics are making their way into waterways resulting in dead zones and algae blooms etc… Biotechs promotion of monoculture, the lack of biodiversity in the foods we grow promoted by biotechnology, screwing with nature and dna, the use of antibiotics in the gmo process, the foods in which they end up being highly processed and fast food.

    If for any reason pepole don’t want to eat food that has been genetically modified for whatever reason they choose that is strictly up to them. The people of Canada want it so it will happen better to make it sooner rather than later.

  25. Avatar Lorraine Steven says:

    Because GMO often means that the crops have been sprayed with glyphosate, it is important to have this labelling so we can make the choice whether to purchase or not. It is our right!

  26. Avatar Peter Reesor says:

    We need this i will do anything i can to help do not hesitate to contact me.. I work free…

  27. Avatar Ursula Wagner says:

    Since 2004 it is European law, that GMO food has to be labelled,
    but you will not find GMO food in European Supermarkets, they say, at least
    that is fact for Germany.
    It wouldn`t make sense, no one would buy it, 80% are against, only the rest doesn`t care.

    So another reason for European people to be against CETA and TTIP,
    and to fight for Canadians to get to same right.

    • Avatar Derek W says:

      I studied in Germany and never saw a GMO label the entire time I was there. yet approximately 70% of their food is produced using GMOs. they just are all exceptions to the rule. e.g., meat is all fed GMO grain, cheese is produced using enzymes from GMO microbes, many food additives are produced by GMO microbes.

  28. Avatar Patricia Krumpek says:

    Some label information has no nutrition or safety value. ‘From concentrate’ on juice does not denote a superior/inferior product (DV% of nutrients is comparable with ‘not from concentrate’ and both are pasteurized). Required information that simply offers consumers choice.
    Country of origin labeling does not imply that product from certain countries is preferable to product from others, it is primarily an ideological accommodation. Consumers may choose to support domestic business for many reasons unrelated to nutrition or safety – perhaps they care about the environmental cost of transporting foodstuffs great distances, they might not wish to support certain political systems or maybe they feel buying Canadian is better for the economy.
    Food Irradiation is considered safe by regulatory agencies yet products treated with irradiation are required to be labeled as such. Irradiation is a process, not ‘an ingredient’, but is recognized as a concern to consumers.
    Why do the biotech companies and food manufacturers assume GM disclosure will be construed as a warning? Proponents can support what they see as a progressive form of agriculture; opponents can avoid what they feel are negative socio-economic impacts of the technology, harmful chemical inputs or perceived corporatization of seed. Labeling accommodates both ideologies. In a free market the customer is always right even if YOU think they are wrong. Objection from industry over GM disclosure appears rooted in fear that the info will affect consumer purchasing patterns and, therefore, profits.The industry has enormous advertising budgets – perhaps they should have wooed consumers instead of battling them. Which other industries believe their products are SO fantastic that they don’t want anyone to know about them?

  29. Avatar Robert Wager says:

    The vast majority of ingredients derived from GE crops are chemically identical to the same ingredients derived from Non-GE crops. sugar is sugar, oils are oils. So putting a distinguishing label where there is no difference is misleading and not good public policy

    • Avatar Rita Grier says:

      Orange juice is orange juice from concentrate or not, but that information is on the label. So gmo is on the label what’s going to change for you? If, I’m saying if, your health is comprised in the future, you might know why.

    • Avatar Joan Schindel says:

      Genetically modified foods have never been tested by independents. We have no idea what effect they have. I do know that chickens fed genetically modified food have completely different livers than chickens fed organic food. Chickens and other animals are killed for meat before they would have a chance to show ill health. Every country in the world except Canada and the USA have mandatory labelling for GMOs. These crops are sprayed with glyphosate which has been detected now in pretty much everything we are eating. It is very hard to find the results of this testing. The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) is well aware of this fact and are carefully guarding it from the public. I know someone who now has those findings and it is being made public. We are being poisoned.

  30. Avatar Beatrice Preda says:

    Great news!We must know what we are eating.