Genetically modified foods entered the Canadian food system 20 years ago, yet most people still don’t know they’ve been eating them since mandatory labelling isn’t required here (or in the United States) like it is in 64 other countries around the world. But even without mandatory labelling, there’s a growing movement of people who are concerned about genetically modified foods and want to avoid them.
A 2015 national Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network found that 88 per cent of Canadians want genetically modified (GM) foods labelled on grocery store shelves. More than half of Canadians oppose genetically modifying crops and animals to produce food.
GMOs are genetically modified organisms, also known as genetically modified foods.
“GMOs look the same as foods grown naturally, but they’re created in a laboratory and very different on the inside,” explains Melissa Diane Smith, author of Going Against GMOs: The Fast-Growing Movement to Avoid Unnatural Genetically Modified “Foods” to Take Back Our Food and Health.
“They’re most often genetically engineered to produce their own internal insecticide or to be herbicide tolerant—to resist and not die from repeated applications of herbicide such as Roundup.
“A key question that arises in consumers’ minds is, ‘if GMOs are safe and healthy for us, why would companies want to hide the presence of GMOs in their products?’” she says. “Many people are concerned about potential health risks from eating GM foods. There’s good reason for that: Animal research suggests possible serious health risks associated with eating GM foods, including infertility, immune system problems, gastrointestinal problems, organ changes, and tumours.”
Most genetically modified crops on the market are sprayed with large amounts of herbicides, Smith says, including those that have been declared probable and possible carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
“The herbicide that is used on most GM crops kills frogs, and it also kills milkweed, the primary food for Monarch butterflies,” Smith says. So, there are big environmental concerns.”
What should people look for when buying food to avoid GMOs?
To avoid GMOs, shoppers need to learn that there are 11 primary at-risk GM foods commonly found in grocery stores. They can remember those foods as 3 Cs, 2 Ss, 2 As, 2 Ps, a Y and a Z.
Click through the gallery above to see which foods are the biggest culprits for GMOs and let us know what you think by tweeting to @YahooStyleCA.