Prince Edward Island, a key north American potato production region, has set landmark hearing dates to discuss genetically modified food cultivation that could result in it becoming the first province in Canada to ban GM practices.

Government officials, food industry and farming unions will start talks next Wednesday. Larger public hearings are only expected to start in the autumn.

NadèGE Adam from citizens group the Council of Canadians welcomed the move, saying: “Ottawa has ignored Canadians’ repeated calls for a public debate on GE foods.”

Several communities across Canada have passed municipal resolutions restricting the cultivation of GM foods. Powell River, British Columbia became Canada’s first GM-free zone last year.