Canada and Quebec are among the world’s leading producers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Twenty years after the introduction of the first modified commercial crops, there are only five countries producing 90% of the world’s GMOs. While this technology remains entirely prohibited, restricted or at least minimally regulated in most countries, Canada ranks fifth among GMO producers with 6.4% of all global production. Canada grows three of the world’s top four GM crops—corn, canola and soybean—as well as sugar beet.
Processed foods like potato chips, preserves and ready-made meals often contain canola, soybean or corn byproducts (see Table 1). Given the high proportion of GMOs in these three crops, chances are that the byproducts used in making these processed foods are from GM crops. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing because neither Canada nor Quebec requires mandatory labeling of GMOs.
A high percentage of the products made by large corporations like Kraft, Kellogg’s, General Mills and Campbell’s—and many of the store-brand products sold by major grocery chains like IGA, Métro and Loblaws—contain GMOs.
A large percentage of GMOs make their way into livestock feed, mainly for cows, pigs and chickens (and thus into fresh and processed meats, eggs, dairy products, etc.). Animals that are not raised as organic livestock are generally fed transgenic corn or soybean.
At the present time, organic certification (see Figure 4) and Non-GMO Project verification are the only sources of information consumers can use to ensure a diet free of GMOs.
To learn more, see the GMO Inquiry 2015 reports at www.gmoinquiry.ca
For more information, visit www.vigilanceogm.org
(1) James, Clive. 2015. Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2014. ISAAA brief No. 49. International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA): Ithaca, NY.
(3) OGM. Gouvernement du Québec. Consulté en avril 2016. http://www.ogm.gouv.qc.ca/ogm_chiffres/importance_cultures.html