GMOs  

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Over the last few years I’ve received hundreds of letters, calls and emails about genetically modified organisms.

I have a number of concerns about GMOs but in my view the bottom line is that people are entitled to know what they are consuming. I fully support legislation that requires food labels to disclose if the contents include GMOs. Governments must ensure food labels provide enough information so people can make informed decisions about what they are eating or feeding to their families.

Food labeling falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal government. Since 2001, New Democrat Parliamentarians have introduced Private Member’s Bills calling for mandatory labeling legislation of GMO foods eight times.

Currently, BC Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko’s Bill, C-257, has been introduced and read for the first time in the House of Commons. This Bill calls for an amendment to the Food and Drugs Act that requires the government to establish if food or a component of the food is genetically modified and if so, the Bill states that:

no person shall sell the food or a food product of which the food is a component in a package, unless a label in the prescribed form containing the following notice is affixed to the package: This product or one or more of its components have been genetically modified.
GMOs are of concern to many British Columbians. As the provincial Opposition Critic for Agriculture, I am actively working on this file.

For example, on November 16, 2011, I submitted the following Private Member’s motion in the BC Legislature:
Be it resolved that this House urges the Government to track GMO seed crops in British Columbia.
It is important that we have accurate and comprehensive information about GMO agricultural production in this province. It is a first step to understanding the ‘facts on the ground’ and it is very important to organic farmers who can lose their organic certification if their crops become ‘contaminated’ by GMOs.

I have also actively opposed the introduction of the genetically-modified “Arctic Apple.” On May 15 2012, I rose in the Legislature and pressed the Agriculture Minister to publicly reject genetically modified apples in BC.

I also drafted a petition about this issue that received over two thousand signatures in just two weeks.

The petition stated:
To the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, in Legislature Assembled:  
1. We, the undersigned petitioners, do hereby register our opposition to the unconfined environmental release of genetically modified apples in British Columbia.  
2. We join with the BC Fruit Tree Association to oppose the commercial release of the “Arctic Apple”, which has been genetically modified to prevent its flesh from browning.
3. We respectfully request that the BC Minister of Agriculture take all steps possible to prevent the commercial planting of this crop.
I will continue to speak out on this issue.

Please share your thoughts and concerns with me: lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca

Kind regards,

Lana

Lana Popham
MLA for Saanich South and Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture



GMO Forum  

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Do you support the call for mandatory labeling of food that contains GMOs? I do!

Hope to see you at the GMO forum tomorrow evening with CBAN's Lucy Sharratt and MP Elizabeth May. All the details are on the poster.


Why won't local hospitals buy local food?  

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The Fraser Valley contains much of the most fertile agricultural land in British Columbia and has long been a major agricultural region in the province. And yet this region's own hospitals don't buy local food.

Check out this Nov 2012 Global News Story:



Other jurisdictions require their hospitals to buy local. Why is BC so far behind? I'm really proud that Adrian Dix, the leader of the Official Opposition in BC, is focused on changing this. We can do better!

BCNDP Finance & Ag Critic speak up for BC Food Innovation Centre  

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I've spent a lot of time with BC Food Processors over the last six months. One priority that has become clear is the value of a "Food Innovation Centre".

The BC FIC could be a hub to the agri-food sector, providing skill development and knowledge resources to food entrepreneurs around the province.

Ontario and Manitoba are good examples of provinces that support food processing and agriculture with innovation centres.

Unfortunately the BC Liberals don't see it that way and are turning their back on this idea and on an industry that could be a dominant economic driver in our province.

In fact, the BC Liberals are cutting funds for this effort by 42% for the 2012/2013 fiscal year.

In response, The BC Food Processors fired back last week:
Passed around with no champion, it appears the Centre will be forced to lay off all of its five staff members as early as Nov. 16th, 2012 and perhaps even be forced to shut down. If this happens, BC’s food processing industry, part of the number one economic driver of the economy, will be the loser. While the Ag Minister and the Premier continue to make speeches featuring the $ 3.5 billion in new sales and the 20,000 new jobs to be created through innovation in the agrifood sector by 2017 it seems meeting these targets is now even farther away.  
Click here to read the BCFPA's entire release.

Finance Critic Bruce Ralston and myself as Agriculture Critic are in full support of the Food Innovation Centre here in British Columbia. There must be a way to make this work! Click here to read our support letter.