10a-gmo-feature-engDid you know that over 75% of the packaged foods we consume contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)? You have a right to know what is in your food.

But how will you know if it’s not on the label? Take a look at the processed foods in your cupboard. Unless they are certified organic, state they are non-GMO, or Non-GMO Project verified the majority of them will likely contain GMOs.

Canadians are often unaware that the foods they choose contain GMO ingredients. It is this basic right to choose that is behind the growing movement to have GMO foods labeled. While environmental and food advocates lobby for labeling, other groups like The Non-GMO Project, have created voluntary non-GMO certification to facilitate consumer information.

What is a GMO?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants or animals created through the process of genetic engineering. This experimental technology forces DNA from one species into a different species. The resulting GMOs are unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional breeding.1

Why GMOs?
The goal was simple: end world hunger by developing pesticide and herbicide resistant crops that would increase yields and decrease costs. If it sounds to good to be true it likely is. Instead of solving the worlds hunger problems other problems have been created. Bugs and weeds have become resistant to these pesticides and herbicides, which just means that farmers now need to use more and more chemicals. This in turn increases costs for farmers and releases more chemicals into the environment, which not only causes environmental concerns but health concerns as well.

GMO safety
GMO corn was introduced in Canada in 2001. This variety called NK603 is “Roundup Ready” meaning it is engineered to tolerate the most widely used herbicide in the world: Roundup. Health Canada approved this corn in 2001 but Monsanto didn’t publish it’s 90-day feeding trial until 2004. A French team of scientists has conducted their own independent feeding trial over a full two-year lifespan of rats. The rats were fed three different diets: the GM corn alone, the GM corn grown with Roundup (with Roundup residues), and Roundup alone.
The study reported adverse effects including organ damage, tumor growth, and increased mortality in rats fed both GM corn with and without Roundup, and in rats fed low levels of Roundup.3

This evidence suggests that more long-term studies are needed to verify the safety of GMOs.

Are GMOs effective?
If it seems too good to be true it probably is. GMO corn crops in Brazil are one example where the effectiveness of GMOs is being questioned. Genetically modified corn seeds are no longer protecting Brazilian farmers from voracious tropical bugs, increasing costs as producers turn to pesticides. Producers want four major manufacturers of so-called BT corn seeds to reimburse them for the cost of spraying up to three coats of pesticides this year, said Ricardo Tomczyk, president of Aprosoja farm lobby in Mato Grosso state.4

The reality is that the effectiveness of GMOs remains to be proven. Instead, bugs and weeds have become increasingly resistant to the widespread applications of these chemicals, leading to increased use of both. More spraying means more costs for the farmers, more damage to the environment and more health concerns. This also means more product purchased from the seed producer. The companies that develop and patent GMO seeds are the same companies that develop and patent the pesticides and herbicides to which the unique seeds are resistant. Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world and owns about 86% of GMO seeds sown globally. It is also the parent of Roundup – the most widely used pesticide on the market.

Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs,” which can only be killed with even more toxic poisons.

GMOs in Canada
Most developed nations have policies surrounding GMOs. The majority require mandatory labeling of GMOs in foods. In over 60 countries around the world, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs.

Canada does not. Over 75% of the packaged foods we eat contain GMOs without us knowing it. In Canada, the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Canadians are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

How can you avoid GMO foods?
Even if our government doesn’t require labeling you can still make a choice:
• Eat certified organic food – GMOs are prohibited from organic farming.
• Avoid eating processed foods with corn, soy, and canola ingredients.
• When buying processed foods look for the Non-GMO Project Verified symbol
• Buy cane sugar to avoid consuming GMO sugar beet.
• Support farmers who fight GMOs – buying food directly from farmers who do not plant GMOs helps support a supply of GMO free foods.

What is the Non-GMO Project?
The Non-GMO Project offers North America’s ONLY third party verification for products produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance. Look for the butterfly throughout our flyer to easily identify Non-GMO Project Verified products.

There is a growing movement surrounding GMO use and the labeling of GMO foods.
If you want to join the movement you can connect with a group in your community to share information. Together you can help Canada:
• Stop the GM apple
• Stop Monsanto’s GM alfalfa and GM wheat
• Stop the introduction of GM animals, such as the GM Atlantic salmon
• Fight corporate control over seeds and protect organic farming

For more information on GMOs please visit healthfirst.ca or nongmoproject.org.

1. www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/
2. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/queen-of-green/faqs/food/understanding-gmo/
3. http://www.cban.ca/Press/Press-Releases/GM-Food-Safety-Study-Reignites-Call-to-Overhaul-Canada-s-Regulations
4. Brazil farmers say GMO corn no longer resistant to pests By Caroline Stauffer | Reuters – Mon, 28 Jul, 2014