Volume 95, Issue 53

Wednesday, December 5, 2001
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Are women safe at Western?

USC begins quest for relevance

War at home and abroad

Tuition increase scares students

Enviro-hippies attack bio-food at Loblaws

Prof: war tribunals problematic

Enviro-hippies attack bio-food at Loblaws

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Last Friday, a group of Greenpeace protesters entered a Loblaws grocery store in Toronto and began labelling products containing genetically modified foods with stickers.

Greenpeace would like to see labelling on all products containing genetically-engineered food, as well as the removal of genetically engineered food from in-store brands, like President's Choice, said Pat Venditti, Greenpeace genetic engineering campaigner.

"[The] release of genetically-modified organisms is unsafe environmentally," Venditti said.

"It is an unsafe technology," he added, explaining GMOs have not gone through sufficient testing to prove there are no long-term effects.

Loblaws was chosen because it is the largest grocery retail chain in Canada, Vendetti said. If Loblaws implements changes, other grocery chains may follow suit, he said.

The protesters were shown out of the store and the police were called, he explained.

"Greenpeace and advocacy groups have been targeting our stores and other larger grocery stores in and around Toronto," said Loblaws spokesman Jeff Wilson.

Wilson said it is up to the federal government to determine which products can be placed on store shelves. Loblaws will continue to give consumers what they want, he added.

"All genetically-modified foods, before they are allowed to be sold, go through a rigorous review," said Ryan Baker, a spokesman for Health Canada.

A company must submit products to Health Canada along with all supporting scientific evidence, he explained. Government scientists review submissions before they are approved, he added.

"Only when it is determined to be safe, is it approved," Baker said.

Len Piche, a nutrition professor at Brescia College, said there has been genetically-modified food in Canada for years.

"It isn't the kind of food that is putting people at risk," Piche said. "Health Canada is good at doing tests before they release [products] into the food supply.

"Canada's food supply is the safest food supply in the world. Bar none," he said.

Brenda Cassidy, executive director of Agricultural Groups Concerned About Resources and the Environment, said mandatory labelling is not nearly as simple as Greenpeace would like.

Her group, which represents farm producers in Ontario, is supportive of voluntary labelling.

"Voluntary labelling is the way to go," she said, adding mandatory labelling forces governments to make loopholes in the law so food can be produced cost-effectively.

Mandatory labelling is complicated when the product contains many ingredients, Cassidy added.

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