What are GMOs?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. GMOs are organisms that have been created through direct manipulation of the gene sequence in ways that do not and cannot occur in nature. They are created by inserting genes or DNA sequences across species boundaries and in this way they differ from traditional breeding which is cross breeding within the same species.   See our February 2014 article on Genetic Engineering 101 for details.

What in Canada is GM?

Currently in Canada, genetic modification (also called genetic engineering) is performed for only one purpose:  to cause a plant to be able to tolerate herbicides or create its own insecticide. Why? So that the chemical companies who create herbicides or insecticide plants can increase sales.  The ideas that genetic modification is causing greater yields or improved nutrition are myths.

The crops grown in Canada that are GM are corn, soy, canola and white sugar beet (for sugar processing) and some GM sweet corn is grown in Ontario. GM products imported into Canada are cottonseed oil, papaya, squash, alfalfa, and some milk ingredients. See CBAN for details, especially on products like the GM Potato and GM Apple that may soon be on our grocery shelves.

What foods contain GM ingredients?

Most processed foods contains some kind of GM ingredient.

Is testing required of GMOs that we eat?

No.  Under Canadian law, when a company wants to sell or advertise for sale a “novel food” it only has to submit a notification prepared under the “Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods”.  The notification does not require any testing, only “information relied on to establish that the novel food is safe for consumption”.  Only if the Food Directorate thinks it needs more information to establish that a food is safe for consumption does it request additional information and then assess this additional information. But even this second assessment stage does not require information on testing or mandate the company to perform testing.  If any tests are submitted, they are usually based on 90 day trials, which are generally not adequate to exhibit the harms that occur over the life of a subject.  See Mary Lou’s Article from October 2013 A New Bottom Line for Kevin O’Leary which explains how Mr. O’Leary, like other Canadians, doesn’t realize that testing is not required.


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