Nature Canada Applauds Senators for their Amendments to Protect Nature from Genetic Pollution
Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, ON – June 16, 2022
On February 9th the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada introduced Bill S-5, a bill to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), which regulates toxins and genetically engineered (GE) animals like the recently approved genetically engineered Atlantic Salmon. The Act has not been updated in 22 years.
Last week in the Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, Senators introduced and supported amendments to CEPA that will modernize the oversight of GE animals in Canada with an emphasis on protecting nature and ensuring Indigenous People’s rights are respected.
“We absolutely commend the Senators for their wisdom and independence in proposing and supporting these amendments,” said Mark Butler, Senior Advisor, Nature Canada. “These amendments will strengthen the protection of nature from genetic pollution.”
Speaking to the Senate on March 3, Minister Guilbeault stated that “As a legislator, I’m always open to making my bills better, and I would invite you or any member of the Senate to come forward with proposals to improve and strengthen the bill as it moves forward.”
Nature Canada welcomes the Minister’s receptivity to amendments and trusts that Government representatives in the Senate will support the amendments emerging from the Committee’s deliberations.
When CEPA was last updated in 1999, scientists had not sequenced the human genome, GE crops were not widespread, and the Canadian Government had not approved the world’s first genetically engineered food animal, an Atlantic salmon.
“It is essential that the legislation keeps up with changes in technology and social values,” says Mark Butler. “For example, the Federal Government approved genetically-engineered Atlantic salmon without any public participation or engagement with Indigenous Peoples for whom salmon is a species of traditional importance.”
The amended Bill will now go to the full Senate for third reading and vote and then get ‘sent over’ to the House of Commons where it will likely be reviewed and debated in the Fall.
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