MP says labelling all genetically modified foods could create unnecessary fear

MP Wayne Easter says he voted against a private member's bill to require the labelling of genetically-modified food because he didn't think a blanket system would serve the public.

Wayne Easter says the bill wasn't specific enough in defining which foods would require labelling

A comparison of the GMO salmon versus a wild (bottom) or farmed salmon (top). MP Wayne Easter said that in the case of genetically-modified salmon, the environmental impact is his main concern. (AquaBounty)

An Island MP says he voted against a private member's bill to require the labelling of genetically-modified food because he didn't think a blanket system would serve the public. 

Wayne Easter was one of three Island MPs who voted against the bill, which failed to pass its second reading on May 17.

Sean Casey was lone representative of P.E.I. to vote for the bill. Lawrence MacAulay and Bobby Morrissey also went against it.

Easter said the bill wasn't specific enough in defining which foods would require labelling.

"I expect a lot of people on Prince Edward Island use canola oil. Canola is genetically modified," he said.

"Do you label that as GMO, do you label french fries that are cooked in canola oil as genetically-modified?" 

Case by case

Easter said another reason for the way he voted was that if all genetically-modified food required labels it might create unnecessary concern.

"The way this bill went is labelling, which also creates the fear that there is something in the food product when there really isn't," he said.

Easter said that in some situations labelling should be required, but in others, it isn't necessary. 

"I look at each GMO differently, in its own right."

Environmental impact

Easter said he is concerned with certain genetically-modified foods, such as AquaBounty salmon, because of the environmental impact it could have.

He said he worried that genetically-modified salmon may affect the wild species if it was bred in the ocean.

"I see the AquaBounty as more an environmental concern," he said.

"It would definitely have to be land based, and because it's more the animal species, it should be labelled."

The AquaBounty facility will be land based.

In April, Environment Canada stated: "Any new facility built to grow the GM salmon must comply with that notice, which specifies that only sterile fish can be grown commercially, they must be killed before leaving the facility and the facility must be fully contained, secure, and land based."

With files from Laura Chapin