Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 19, 2003
WCR Letters to the Editor
Voluntary food labelling seen as the answer
What Suzanne Elston fails to mention in her May 7 column (Know what's on your plate) is that all new foods, including those developed through genetic engineering (GE), are fully assessed for potential human and animal health as well as environmental risks before they are approved for use or sale in Canada.
In cases where such foods are different from their traditionally produced counterparts, they must be clearly labelled. To date, however, no such products have been approved. Although the "fish gene in tomato" story is a longstanding favourite among groups opposed to the use of GE techniques in food production, experimentation on such a product was abandoned in its earliest stages because it simply didn't work.
Had such a product been developed, it would have been subject to the health and safety assessments that new foods undergo, and the potential for allergenicity among those who suffer fish allergies would have been assessed.
For more background on this fishy tale, see: www.foodsafetynetwork.ca/gmo/dp-thomas-flavrsavr.htm. From a food safety perspective, there is no legitimate reason to require labelling for all foods produced using GE technology, just as there is no reason to require that all foods produced through other technologies (organic or conventional) be labelled to indicate their production method.
International experience demonstrates that mandatory GE labels are more likely to alert than to inform, and fall far short of answering consumers' information needs.
In every country where GE food labelling is required, for example, regulators have also been forced to provide a vast range of exemptions and loopholes in order to make the system practical and affordable. As a result, the information provided by GE labels in every mandatory system that has been developed to date provides little assurance to people who want to choose foods based on how they're produced.
Choice is a fundamental value, and people should absolutely have the right to choose what they are eating based on whatever criteria they set. The challenge is in finding effective ways of providing that choice without imposing its additional costs on the public as a whole. A voluntary labelling system for GE foods, based on clear and consistent standards, could provide that choice.
Dr. Douglas Powell
Dept. of Plant Agriculture
University of Guelph
Volunteers must deal with prison's reality
Re: Look within and find the answers (Letters, WCR, May 5).
I want to point out a few omissions in the letter about volunteers at Edmonton Institution.
First, on the night of the archbishop's visit to the institution. Edmonton Institution for various security reasons is a segregated institution.
At this time there are seven different groups of inmates that cannot be integrated together.
When the archbishop came to visit, he met with two groups of men. In one group, there were 13 out of a possible 24. The second group had 10 out of a possible 48.
Twenty-three out of a possible seventy-two, I'd say that's pretty good numbers considering the hockey playoffs were on.
There weren't 10 out of 240 as the WCR readers were led to believe.
The second issue is that Mr. Critchley is right in stating that not all inmates are depressed. For the most part though, they are lonely and do have interest in hearing people talk of their faith.
Faith is some thing rather foreign to some of the prisoners and to others it intrigues them, still others are doubtful.
Very few of the men at the Max get steady visits. The reasons for this are varied.
Some are from out of province or out of town, most spouses can't afford to come to the prison (there is no bus to the prison) cab fair is at least $20 one way. Still other inmates have segregated themselves from their families for various reasons.
I would say Mr. Critchley should know this since he worked in the visits and correspondence department for a time.
The third issue is the perceived danger of such a violent place. A violent place Edmonton Institution can be, right inside where inmates live and work yes. I'd be hard pressed to find anywhere in Canada where an inmate ever harmed a volunteer.
Some inmates might be dangerous, but they're not stupid.
The chaplain's job is arduous and a lot of the times it's lonely. They, like pastors of a parish, need help.
Volunteers are needed to share their faith with the men at the Max.
We must be responsive to this call: Remember Matthew 25: 31-46. "I was . . . in prison and you visited me."
Mother Teresa of Calcutta also stated "We will not be judged by the amount of our giving but by the labour of love put into our giving."
I thank Archbishop Collins for his labour of love, example, continued support and valued visits.
Try dialogue, discussion
The letter to the editor "Demand for money offends" by K. Chmilar (WCR, April 21) deserves some comment.
I wonder if K. Chmilar has made an effort to discuss the homily with the priest involved. While right after Mass is not the best time to do so, especially when the priest might have to leave quite soon to get to the next Mass, I suggest that any person who has difficulty with what the priest has said or supposedly has said contact the priest and set up an appointment with him to discuss the so-called offence.
If K. Chmilar lives a great distance away from the parish that he/she visited, then perhaps a meeting could be set up when the priest comes to Edmonton on business.
K. Chmilar appears to have discussed the priest's comments with other members of the parish (parish council chairperson and finance team).
I wonder if K. Chmilar asked these people if the type of homily preached on that particular Sunday is the rule or the exception. If it is the rule, then perhaps the parish might find a way to enable their pastor, who appears to be shared by other parishes, to better prepare his homilies.
Good homily preparation requires a great deal of time. Some experts in homiletics describe a week-long process involving approximately one hour of preparation for one minute of preaching. This has great consequences for any parish.
The parishioners will have to assume more responsibility in order to free the pastor for his work of proclaiming and preaching the various aspects of the Word of God. Everyone will have to share more of their time, talent and financial resources. If the homily heard by K. Chmilar is the exception to the usual preaching, then perhaps Christian charity and forgiveness would be the order of the day.