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BC government refuses to carry out its promised review of the genetically engineered apple

Vancouver, 26 May 2014

The BC. government is refusing to carry out a review of the genetically engineered (GE) apple it promised in 2012. The GE apple developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in Summerland BC is genetically engineered to not turn brown for about 15 days after it is cut, and is under assessment for approval in Canada and the US.

“Unless the BC government acts now, the GE apple could be approved before the promised review takes place,” said Tony Beck of the Society for a GE Free BC, “The government needs to carry out a review which is fair, transparent, and receives adequate input from consumers, farmers and scientific experts.”

In 2012 the Union of BC Municipalities voted for a moratorium on the GE apple and the promise of a review was part of the government’s response.

The Society for a GE Free BC, a grassroots community coalition working for sustainable agriculture and against genetic engineering of crops and animals, has made several requests for this review and meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture – with no response.

“Our government must consult British Columbians, retailers and both organic and conventional apple growers on this urgent GE apple problem,” said Teresa Lynne of the Society for a GE Free BC.

The BC Fruit Growers’ Association has also requested a moratorium on approving the GE apple.

This week Nicholas Simons, BC NDP agriculture critic, will present over 7,000 signatures gathered by the Society for a GE Free BC in 20 communities, calling for a moratorium on the GE apple. Simons also introduced two questions to the BC Legislature on May 12th asking for the review of the GE apple the government promised, with no response as yet.

In 2012, the Liberal government of the day noted its concern about negative impacts of the GE apple and promised a review in response to the UBCM resolution:

“The Province recognizes that production of Genetically Engineered (GE) fruit trees and their products, including tree fruit and pollen, raises human and environmental health concerns in export markets. These concerns can negatively impact access to those export and some domestic markets for both conventional and organic products.

If the Federal Government were to allow unconfined production of GE trees and other fruits in Canada, the fruit production and sales could be significantly impacted. The Province will explore the complex GE fruit issue and the UBCM resolution to request legislation to prohibit the BC production, importation and export of GE fruit trees and their products. Upon completion of this review, the Province will provide UBCM with its findings.”

Media contacts:

Tony Beck, Society for a GE Free BC, 250 538 8320

Teresa Lynne, Society for a GE Free BC, 604 837 1739

Nicholas Simons, NDP Agriculture Critic, 604 741 1536