In Canada, $700 million dollars is spent annually by the federal and
provincial governments to develop and promote biotechnology.
Virtually none, and no targeted program, focuses on risk assessment
either through food safety or environmental risks.
In the US, the 1990 Farm Bill required that 1% of the USDA biotech
budget be allocated to risk assessment. That is about $1.5 million,
which supports a few, largely excellent projects. But that it still
a pittance compared to 99% awarded to the "pro" side.
There can be no clearer indication of the degree to which
government has abandoned its historic role in safeguarding society
and the environment in favor of that of an advocate (and apologist)
for industry than what happened in Colombia earlier this year. The
behavior of the US and Canadian governments (and that of OZ and 3
South American nations) was reprehensible in the extreme, in
obstructing four years of effort leading up to the doomed Biosafety
Protocol signing at Cartegena, Colombia.
So, in the absence of meaningful evidence on risk (and recall,
please, that absence of evidence doesn't mean evidence of absence -
it just means the research hasn't been done), labelling that
something is GMO will be a pointless exercise for the vast majority
of citizens. What is needed is a concerted effort to assess the
degree to which risks actually exist, and to quantify and report
them, before expecting producers, consumers, or policymakers to make
an "informed" decision. Ann
Dr. E. Ann Clark
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 2508
FAX: 519 763-8933
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