A British Columbia-based company, Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., has developed a genetically modified apple that doesn't brown when cut or bruised. Last week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada announced the decision to allow the fruit to be grown and sold within Canada. This follows a decision last month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The company intends to start planting the genetically modified apples in the spring of 2016 with significant planting to follow in 2017.
Should Europeans be concerned given CETA and TTIP?
A primary difference between the European Union and North America with respect to genetically modified food is that the EU employs the precautionary principle and a thorough risk assessment process, whereas regulators in North America assume that genetically modified organisms are "substantially equivalent" to their non-GMO counterparts. The precautionary principle and "long delays in reviews" of GM products could be argued in trade terms as unacceptable non-tariff barriers to exports that could be challenged and undermined.
The Harper government has stated that the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (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."
In other words, there is a process within CETA that would promote regulatory harmonization and address non-tariff barriers that could allow the export of genetically modified apples into Europe. It's also conceivable that the company could use the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision to challenge any prohibition of genetically modified apple exports to Europe. And overall, more Canadian apples will be heading to Europe with CETA. Under the deal, the 9 per cent EU seasonal tariff on Canadian apples will be reduced to 0 per cent.
Similarly, European allies have warned that the Sanitary and Phytosanitary committee referenced in the United States-European Union Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, will judge whether food safety measures are 'least trade restrictive' and 'equivalent'.
The Council of Canadians has long opposed GMOs and is committed to working with our European allies to stop the ratification of CETA and the completion of TTIP.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.