Genetic engineering (GE) involves inserting genes from one organism into another, unrelated organism. The results are not found in nature and cannot be achieved by traditional cross-breeding techniques.
GE crops are usually sold by multinational corporations and are most often designed to survive repeated applications of specific, patented weed or pest killing chemicals. While there are many environmental risks associated with GE foods, the consequences for human health are still unknown. There have been no long-term tests done to determine the impact of GE food on human health.
Countries including China, Indonesia, and Australia as well as the entire European Union are protected by existing or proposed regulations for labelling GE food. In Canada, even though more than 70 per cent of non-organic processed foods contain GE ingredients, there are no rules requiring the mandatory labelling of food containing GE ingredients. Right now, Greenpeace is campaigning to label GE food in B.C. and Quebec, where recent public opinion polls have shown overwhelming support for mandatory labelling.
To avoid GE foods in your holiday meals, read the ingredients on non-organic processed foods. If they contain corn, soy, canola or cottonseed oil or their derivatives, chances are they contain GE ingredients. There have also been incidents of product contamination with experimental GE rice. Although no rice contamination has been found in Canada to date, that doesn’t mean we\’re off the hook – Canadian regulatory authorities just aren’t looking that hard.
Fresh fruit and vegetables in Canada are generally not genetically engineered. Some exceptions include papayas imported from the U.S. and possibly corn. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell whether or not you are looking at a GE papaya or a traditional papaya, unless, of course, you are buying organic. Organic produce and products are not allowed to contain GE ingredients.