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News: Canada on GMO labeling

Last week, we gave a call to action for everyone to take the Health Canada survey to demand that GMOs be labelled on our foods and health products. Beginning in 2014, countries around the world have worked to ban, restrict or at least label foods made with GMO ingredients. [1] Despite the actions of these countries, Canada has chosen not to follow suit ⎯ yet. What does this mean for us and the food we eat?

The use of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) has been a topic of debate since they were introduced 15 years ago in canola, corn, soy and sugar beets. [2]  Rachel Parent, an anti-GMO activist, stated in her article that "more than 70% of the products you purchase at your local grocery store contain genetically modified ingredients." [3] There have been arguments both for and against the use of genetically modified ingredients in the foods we eat. The pro side argues that the benefits of GMOs include increased disease resistance, more nutritional benefits and better overall taste. [4] The opposition argues that risks include increased environmental damage, no economic value and a growth in allergic reactions in the general population. [5] Again, there is considerable controversy in determining whether GMOs are the next stage of development for the foods we eat or a poison that will work into our bodies and alter our genetic make-up.  With opposing sides on the use and consumption of GMOs, there is one critical question that needs to be answered: Why aren't GMOs part of Canada's food labelling system?

In early 2014, our Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, asked Canadians what they would like to see on the country's new food labels. [6] Here are a few of the many suggestions that were made, found in Rachel's article:

  • Enforcing food labelling rules and applying policies consistently and transparently, especially with more training for inspectors
  • More complete country-of-origin information
  • Clearly labeling genetically engineered or genetically modified ingredients in food products
  • Declaring the presence or use of pesticides, agricultural chemicals, antibiotics or growth hormones [7]

Despite the suggestions for labelling and declaring the use of GMOs in the foods we eat, Health Canada mentioned nothing about these suggestions in their latest report. It is only through public pressure that we will effect change.

If Canada is working towards transparency regarding how and where our products are made, why is are GMOs still being hidden from us? Help create better transparency by visiting Rachel's website and signing the petition for Rona Ambrose to visit with Rachel and work toward better transparency in food labeling and GMOs.

Please note: the deadline is September 11.

For more information about this topic, check out the following links!

[1] Parent, Rachel. "Canada's New Nutrition Labels Are Still Missing GMO Labels." Huffington Post. 21 August 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/rachel-parent/canadas-gmo-labels_b_5696847.html (29 August 2014).

[2] Kelly, Margie. "Top 7 Genetically Modified Crops" Huffington Post. 12 October 2012.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margie-kelly/genetically-modified-food_b_2039455.html  (29 August 2014).

[3] Parent, "Canada's New Nutrition Labels Are Still Missing GMO Labels."

[4] "Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Foods." Health Research Funding. 4 December 2013. http://healthresearchfunding.org/pros-cons-genetically-modified-foods/ (29 August 2014).

[5] "Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Foods."

[6] Parent, "Canada's New Nutrition Labels Are Still Missing GMO Labels."

[7] Parent, "Canada's New Nutrition Labels Are Still Missing GMO Labels."