Ag minister takes heat over GM issue

The Conservative agriculture critic says the federal minister has overstepped by asking the agriculture committee to study genetically modified animals.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Chris Warkentin a day after Lawrence MacAulay told reporters in Ottawa that he had asked the committee to examine the issue and report back before the end of the year.

That announcement came after Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency said they had approved the GM AquAdvantage Salmon for both human and animal consumption.

The salmon, which was developed by an American company, was approved for sale in the United States last fall. It should be in Canadian stores in about a year.

Warkentin said MacAulay received feedback causing him to question the scientific work that resulted in the approval.

“If he is not in support of what his department has done, then the minister should come out and say that,” he said. “He has the responsibility to come out to Canadians and explain what he believes is the problem.”

However, Warkentin was more troubled by what he saw as interference with an independent committee.

Typically, the committees set their own agendas and operate to complement the work of government. The agriculture committee already has several studies on the go, including bee health and the next agricultural policy framework.

Warkentin said committee members “are able to do math” and assume the Liberal majority membership will control its agenda. The GM study will have to be done.

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