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NDP Says Canada Needs Food Security Policy

Canadians are looking to their government for a comprehensive food strategy to protect our food security and sovereignty, a report released by the New Democrats June 22 says.

The report is based on the “Food for Thought” tour led by Agriculture Critic Alex Atamanenko, which held public forums in 28 communities across the country over the past two years.

“Food is not only fundamental to healthy living but it is fundamental to a healthy economy,” said New Democrat Leader Jack Layton in a release. “Urban or rural, Canadians want their government to step up to the plate and develop a national plan to protect the food we eat and promote the food we produce.”

The consultation revealed these key priorities:

By enacting legislation that

will require that food be properly labelled with information on its origin, its nutritional value and whether it is genetically modified or not;

By requiring imported foods meet the same environmental and health standards that apply to food produced in Canada and providing the

resources to enforce those

standards; By offering incentives and designing tax policies to promote local food production, processing capacity and distribution networks, such as farmer’s markets and agriculture co-operatives.

“Throughout the tour, Canadians told us that when it comes to food, we have to start thinking locally,” said Atamanenko. “We need to make sure that everyone has access to safe and nutritious food and who better to produce it than our own farmers? We already trust them to put healthy food on our plates. It’s time our government did the same.”

The tour found that supporting local initiatives such as farmers’ markets and co-operatives, and creating regulations adapted to the realities of small scale farmers, are just some of the solutions that would ensure Canada’s food security and sovereignty.

The tour also found a wealth of organizations and communities across the country that have or want to develop an action plan to deal with various aspects of food security. There is a strong appetite for federal leadership to support these initiatives.

“This is an important and monumental report on what Canadians are thinking,” said Layton. “I would like to thank everyone who came out to the forums and shared their thoughts, and Alex for seeking out the views of so many Canadians interested in food issues.. It is time that people in Ottawa to finally hear what they have to say.”

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