Metro Vancouver Conservative MPs vote against genetically engineered seeds bill
Metro Vancouver MPs are split along party lines over an effort to reform how genetically engineered seeds are regulated in Canada.
Bill C-474, which is under debate in Ottawa, was introduced by NDP MLA Alex Atamanenko amid worries about the loss of European export markets due to the genetic contamination of Canadian flax crops.
If passed, the private member’s bill would prevent the sale of any new genetically engineered seeds before an analysis is conducted of the potential harm to the livelihood of farmers.
On April 14, the House of Commons voted 153-134 to approve second reading of the bill, which now goes to committee.
The bill is moving forward despite almost unanimous opposition from Conservative members of Parliament, including all of those in the Metro Vancouver area.
John Cummins, the Conservative MP for Delta-Richmond East, criticized the bill for seeking to fix a regulatory system that he said isn’t broken.
Cummins told the Straight that the proposed changes would “seriously undermine the science-based arguments that are made to foreign governments to open their markets to Canadian goods”.
“Our view of the bill is that it would allow for a looser interpretation or a more inaccurate interpretation of what we think the real concerns are out there in the marketplace,” he said by phone this afternoon (April 16). “We’re trying to protect the system that’s in place now, which we feel is appropriate.”
No Liberal or NDP MPs from Metro Vancouver voted against second reading of the bill.
Atamanenko, who’s the NDP agriculture critic and MP for British Columbia Southern Interior, argued the new regulations are needed to protect farmers.
“It’s ludicrous to develop a product that there’s no market for,” Atamanenko told the Straight by phone this afternoon.
“We know that there’s tremendous pressure on all of us from the big biotech industry, in this case, not to move this forward,” he added. “The Conservatives have succumbed to this pressure with the exception of two members who voted to support my bill last Wednesday night.”