|These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard
Mr. Bernard Bigras (RosemontóLa Petite-Patrie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on Friday, the council of environment ministers of the European Union decided to maintain the right of member states to ban certain types of genetically modified corn and rapeseed in order to protect public health and the environment, a right that is currently in dispute before the WTO.
Given Europe's decision to protect public health and the environment, will Canada consider today withdrawing its complaint before the WTO?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, here in Canada we have a very clear way in which we handle GM products. It is very intense. We deal with a scrutiny in terms of any product that would come to market. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety of Canadian consumers. That is what we do.
Mr. Bernard Bigras (RosemontóLa Petite-Patrie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Canada, like the United States and Argentina, is contesting these bans at the WTO on the basis of freedom of trade, and contends that the product must be proven unsafe before it is banned, while Europe contends that the product must be proven safe before it is authorized.
How can the Canadian government continue its proceedings at the WTO in the name of free trade and ignore the legitimate concerns of consumers over the potential dangers of genetic modification?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada's position is not in terms of free trade. It is in terms of protecting Canadian consumers. Before we provide a licence to any product for distribution in this country, we make absolutely certain that we undertake the necessary investigations to ensure it is safe for Canadian consumers. That is what we do in terms of our licensing process. That is what we have done in the past and that is what we will continue to do in the future.