From fish to apples, corn to potatoes, we Canadians interact with GMOs everyday. Yet, some countries have mandatory labeling while others completely ban GMOs. Whether you are GMO savvy, or new to the topic, discover more about GMOs.
What are GMOs?
According to Health Canada, a genetically modified (GM) organism is a food that has been created through crossbreeding, mutagenesis or genetic engineering (DNA or gene changes).
What’s the problem?
GMO crops are resistant to pesticides and herbicides, so farmers can apply them liberally without harm to their crop. Bugs and weeds are increasingly becoming resistant to these chemicals, causing farmers to have to spray more and more. That’s bad news for the health of our bodies, the environment and farmers. But, it is good news for the companies who made the GMO seeds and the chemicals to use on them – big sales mean big profits.
GMOs: ‘Yeah!’ or ‘Uh-Oh!’
GMOs are banned in many countries, including 19 countries in the European Union. In Russia, Brazil, Australia and 61 other countries, mandatory GMO labeling laws are in place. In July, Vermont became the first State to have mandatory GMO labeling laws.
Many large U.S. food manufacturers, such as Kellogg’s and General Mills will now label GMOs on all their products across the U.S. Labeling is not mandatory in Canada. Health Canada argues that GMOs have been evaluated as safe for consumption.
Others have raised concerns that GMOs are not adequately tested for safety, including Canadian advocate, David Suzuki.
GMOs in Canada
Did you know that Canada is the fourth largest grower of GMOs? Canada grows genetically modified corn, soy, canola and sugar beets, and imports genetically modified papaya, squash and milk products.
What GMOs are coming to shelves near you?
GM rice, salmon, apples, potatoes and wheat are lined up and soon to reach our grocery store shelves. Herbicide-resistant rice was approved by Health Canada in April, as was a fast growing salmon in May. The Artic Apple is a non-browning apple. Scientists have genetically altered the apples to not produce the enzyme, which turns them brown. Artic Apple varieties will likely hit store shelves in 2017. The Innate Potato was created to be less likely to bruise and lower in acrylamide, a carcinogen.
What Can You Do?
Public desire can drive change – Vermont is a great example. Join in the conversation – advocate groups are speaking out against the use of GMOs in Canada. In the meantime, you can find non-GMO containing foods on store shelves by looking those with the NON-GMO Project label.
Did you know?
- Canada is the fourth largest grower of GMOs
- More than 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance
- GM crops are responsible for the emergence of herbicide resistant “super weeds” and “super bugs”
- The long-term impacts of GMOs are currently unknown.
Where in the World are GM Crops and Foods? GMO Inquiry 2015. Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 2015.
http://gmoinquiry.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/where-in-the-world-gm-crops-foods.pdfCenter for Food Safety
The NON-GMO Project
http://www.nongmoproject.org Duke, S.O., & Powles, S.B. (2009). “Glyphosate-resistant crops and weeds: Now and in the future.” AgBioForum, 12(3&4), 346-357.
Mortensen DA, Egan JF, Maxwell BD, Ryan MR, Smith RG. “Navigating a critical juncture for sustainable weed management.” BioScience. 2012;62(1):75-84.
“Newsroom.” Agent Orange: Background on Monsanto’s Involvement. N.p., n.d. Web.