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Government Responses to Environmental Petitions


The 1995 amendments to the Auditor General Act created an environmental petitions process. Under this process, residents of Canada can forward a written petition to the Auditor General. Petitions must relate to environmental matters that are the responsibility of specific federal departments and agencies. The Commissioner monitors the status of these petitions and the government's response to them.

  • Petition 305 - Accountability for labelling of genetically modified organisms
    • The petitioners are concerned that the federal government is not monitoring the use or evaluating the effectiveness of its voluntary labelling standard for genetically modified organisms. The petitioners ask the federal government about its plans to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the standard. They also ask whether the federal government has assessed and considered the labelling practices in other jurisdictions.
  • Petition 152 - Full access to information used for decisions on genetically modified organisms
    • The petitioner calls for Canada to ratify and implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and ban the release of genetically modified organisms to avoid contamination outside and inside Canada. The petitioner also asks the government to adopt legislation that would give the public better access to information used for decision making, including environmental assessment studies on genetically modified organisms.
  • Petition 125 - Federal regulation of genetically modified organisms
    • This petition concerns the assessment and regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Canada. The petitioner is primarily concerned about the regulation of plant biotechnology and asks specific questions about the following: how departments determine whether or not a plant with novel traits is safe; the regulations and policies governing farm borders and farmers' rights in areas where genetically modified crops are produced; departments' review and enforcement of policies on GMOs; and departments' approaches to addressing public concerns about GMOs.
  • Petition 108 - Human, social, and environmental impacts of genetic engineering
    • The petitioner raises concerns about the human, social, and environmental impact of genetic engineering. According to the petitioner, genetic engineering is a relatively new and untested technology that poses a serious threat to sustainable development in Canada. The petitioner poses questions about the production and licensing of genetically engineered (GE) crops, and the impact of GE crops on human health, biodiversity, and sustainable farming. 
  • Petition 94 - Biotechnology and "Pharming Crops"
    • This petition, as with other petitions submitted by Greenpeace Canada, deals with biotechnology. In this instance, the petition concerns genetically engineered (GE) crops designed for pharmaceutical applications and/or industrial production ("pharming crops"). It also contains questions that deal with GE animals and/or other living organisms. 
  • Petition 88 - Genetically-engineered wheat and the future of Canadian agriculture
  • Petition 84 - Effects of genetically engineered crops on soil health
    • According to the petitioner, little attention has been paid to the effects of genetically engineered (GE) crops on soil and soil health. The petitioner suggests that the federal government should invoke the precautionary principle and eliminate GE crops given the scientific uncertainty surrounding their effects on soil health. The petitioner also requests that the federal government undertake a series of independent, peer-reviewed studies on this issue. 
  • Petition 44 - Post-approval monitoring of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
    • The petitioner posed a series of questions about Canada's regulatory regime for GMOs, in particular the federal government's monitoring of GMOs following their approval. Specific questions were posed on Monsanto's Round-Up Ready™ soybean. 
  • Petition 38B - Follow-up petition on genetically engineered fish
    • This is a follow-up to petition No. 38A that dealt with federal government policy concerning the rearing of genetically engineered (GE) fish. Greenpeace maintains that all GE fish should be raised in secure, land-based facilities as the risks associated with the rearing of GE fish in open net pens in oceans and lakes are too high.  In this petition, Greenpeace requests an update on progress made with respect to federal action on GE fish, including the development of a regulation for GE fish under the federal Fisheries Act.
  • Petition 38A - Genetically engineered fish
    • The petitioner requested information about federal government policy concerning the rearing of genetically engineered (GE) fish. Greenpeace maintains that all GE fish should be raised in secure, land-based facilities as the risks associated with rearing GE fish in open net pens in oceans and lakes are too high. Greenpeace posed eight very detailed questions in the petition.
  • Petition 34B - Genetically modified organisms - Follow-up petition on Canada's response to the Starlink™ corn controversy
    • In this petition, which is a follow-up to petition No. 34A, the petitioner posed further questions related to Starlink™ corn. 
  • Petition 34A - Genetically modified organisms - Canada's response to the Starlink™ corn controversy
    • The petition addresses concerns about a transgenic (GMO) corn with the trade name of Starlink™. This corn is not approved for use as a food or as animal feed in Canada. In the United States, it is approved for animal feed but not as a food. Greenpeace alleged that some Starlink™ corn made its way into the food supply in the United States and ultimately into Canada. The organization posed a number of questions in the petition. Some are directly related to Canada's actions in the wake of the Starlink™ controversy. Others are more general and relate to Canada's actions to protect our agricultural exports and prevent farmers from planting seeds contaminated with corn like Starlink™.
  • Petition 23 - Federal laws, regulations, and policies on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
    • The petition is a critique of federal laws, regulations, and policies concerning GMOs. It argues that the federal approach toward GMOs is not consistent with the principles of sustainable development. The petitioners asked the federal government to review its laws, regulations, and policies on a number of fronts and to adopt a series of suggested measures aimed at protecting the health, safety, and environment of Canadians from GMOs.