Letter 20100316 Harper Bill C-474

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Letter 20100316 Harper Bill C-474


March 16, 2010


(Established in 1893 )

March 16, 2010
Dear Prime Minister Harper:

On behalf of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), which represents many thousands of Canadians through our Federation of 15 Local and 6 Provincial Councils of Women and 21 Nationally Organized Societies, may I urge your Government to support Bill C–474, particularly because of its recognition that there are health, safety, and environmental issues with genetically engineered (GE) crops, and that this Bill will ensure that these are considered before GE seeds are released into the export market.

NCWC has raised its concerns about genetically engineered (GE) crops with the Government for many years. Our position is well founded in democratically developed policies regarding GE crops, which would have the government of Canada act in even stronger “precautionary” ways than Bill C-474 advocates. For instance, in 1998 and 2000 NCWC urged the Federal government to “ immediately bring the issue of genetic engineering, long term public safety and trade in genetically engineered products into the public forum, through the establishment of a Royal Commission; and, in the interim, cease trading in these products to other countries. “

Further to this, in January 2001, having adopted policy to support the use of the “precautionary principle in all matters relating to health , safety and the environment,” NCWC wrote to the Prime Minister requesting that Canada sign the UN Cartagena Protocol on Bio-Safety, developed by delegates to a Montreal meeting the previous January. While Canada did sign the Protocol in April of 2001, as of March 2009, it had failed to ratify the agreement – whose aim is to ensure that the environment, biological safety and diversity, and human health must be paramount in trade issues.

To date, 157 member countries have ratified the protocol; however it would appear that in failing to do so, Canada, unlike others such as the European Union who signed and ratified it early on, believes that trade comes first.

This presumption seems clear in the issue at hand where there has been the illegal GE contamination of flax shipments to European Union countries who are refusing to buy our crops for environmental and safety reasons. Yet the Canadian Government appears ready to give approvals for GE alfalfa sales, despite the outcry from farmers, and farm groups, such as the National Farmers Union which wholeheartedly supports Bill C-474 and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, which supports it in “spirit.”

In light of this, NCWC asks once more, in the interest of public health, safety and the environment that the Government support Bill C-474.


Karen Dempsey
President , NCWC
506 -251 Bank St., Ottawa ON K2P 0L4
902-422-8485 (Halifax)
613-232-5025/877 -319-0993 (Ottawa)

[Text prepared by Gracia Janes, President NCWC Education Fund and former NCWC VP Environment]

c.c. The Hon. Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture
Michael Ignatieff, MP, Leader of the Official Opposition
Jack Layton, MP, Leader of the New Democratic Party
Gilles Duceppe, MP, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois
Alex Atamanenko ,MP, sponsor of the Private Member’s Bill C-474
Other Members of Parliament

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