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Council of Canadians opposes approval of GMO apples in Canada

GE FREE BC, Ava Waxman

Council of Canadians activist Ava Waxman opposes GMO apples.

Two types of apples – genetically modified by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. of Summerland, BC to not turn brown after they’ve been sliced or bruised – were recently approved by the US Agricultural Department. The concern now is that these GMO apples could also be approved in Canada as early as this April. And Europeans may want to take note of the implications given new measures to facilitate the export of apples to Europe from Canada under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The Associated Press reports, “The first Arctic apples are expected to be available [in the United States] in late 2016 in small, test-market quantities. It takes apple trees several years to produce significant quantities, so it will take time before the genetically-modified apples are widely distributed.” The New York Times reports Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter commenting, “This GMO apple is simply unnecessary. Apple browning is a small cosmetic issue that consumers and industry have dealt with successfully for generations.”

The Globe and Mail adds, “Neal Carter, President of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, wants to see Health Canada and the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) approve his product – named Arctic apples – by April of this year.” The company wants to begin planting GMO apples here in the spring of 2016. …”Okanagan Specialty Fruits is also working on a genetically engineered peach, which will be resistant to certain viruses, as well as a genetically engineered cherry, which will resist browning much like the Arctic apple does.”

And the Toronto Star has noted, “Anti-GMO groups have been quick to denounce the decision. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network is demanding the Canadian market stay closed to this controversial fruit. ‘Health Canada should not approve this apple’, says co-ordinator Lucy Sharratt of the non-profit GMO watchdog.”

The Council of Canadians is a member group of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. In February 2014, the Council of Canadians Kelowna chapter – located in the fruit growing region of the Okanagan Valley – participated in a protest against GMO apples. And in the spring of 2014, Council of Canadians activist Ava Waxman spoke on this issue at the BC-Yukon regional meeting of chapters and has been encouraging people to sign a ‘Say No to the GMO Apple’ petition.

In its promotion of CETA, the Harper government has stated that apples, which currently have “EU seasonal tariffs reaching as high as 9 percent”, would have a 0 per cent tariff with the deal. It also highlights, “In addition, CETA will enhance the existing Canada-EU forum for discussion on biotechnology and emphasizes the promotion of efficient science-based approval processes and cooperation on low-level presence of genetically modified crops. …CETA also includes provisions to address non-tariff barriers in the EU, such as those related to animal and plant health and food safety. …CETA establishes a mechanism under which Canada and the EU will cooperate to discuss, and attempt to prevent or resolve, non-tariff barriers that may arise for agricultural exports.”

For more information, sample letters and a petition that opposes the GMO apple, please see the GM Free BC website here.

Further reading
CETA should have a GMO warning label on it in Europe (December 2014 blog)