North·Q & A

Label genetically modified foods, Yukon farmer urges Trudeau

​A Yukon farmer has started a petition asking the federal government to require the labelling of all ingredients that are genetically modified.

We have a right to know what's in our food even if there's nothing wrong with it, argues Barbara Drury

Canola in southern Manitoba. According to the Canola Council of Canada, about 80 per cent of the canola grown in Canada has been modified using biotechnology "to make it tolerant to some herbicides." (Radio-Canada)

​A Yukon farmer has started a petition asking the federal government to require the labelling of all ingredients that are genetically modified. 

The petition, launched two weeks ago on the website, has attracted over 25,000 supporters, even though scientists generally agree that food that contain genetically modified organisms are safe.  

CBC's A New Day caught up with Barbara Drury to find out why she launched the petition. Drury runs a ranch in the Ibex Valley near Whitehorse.

Why are you doing this petition?

I really feel it's so important to know what's in our food. Everyday items like canola oil and sugar often contain genetically modified organisms [GMO] but since they don't have to be labelled, people don't necessarily know that. 

What do you want people to know about GMO foods?

Genetic modification usually requires a tremendous amount of herbicide called Roundup. And the active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate and glyphosate is an extremely harmful chemical that is uptaken in our bodies, mimicking an amino acid.

If you think it's bad, why not petition for a ban of GMO foods altogether? 

An all out ban at this point, is unrealistic. GMO is everywhere. We have to take this in incremental steps and the first step is to get labelling. 

What kind of uptake has your petition had and what will you do with it? 

It's on the website I started the petition Nov. 28, and it already has more than  27,000 signatures. It's gotten quite a lot of interest across Canada.

In late January, I'd like to take the petition to our prime minister.

What sort of pushback is there against labelling? 

Major corporations like Monsanto don't want to have GMO labelling. Even though they claim there's nothing wrong with GMOs, they realize that consumers, if they see the labelling, will probably have a pull back. But I think though we do deserve to have that on our label.

If there's nothing wrong with it, as the corporations claim, then fine. One of the reasons food companies say they don't want to label products is because it's going to cost so much more money, but it's not. Labelling is required anyway.  All it would be is a "GM" in front in sugar, or "GM" in front of oil. That's all it would require.