Organic Week might be over but why not extend the celebrations during October, which happens to be Non-GMO Month!
GMO, genetically modified organisms, refers to the plants or animals created through biotechnology to merge DNA from different species. GMO crops were thought to be a solution to world hunger and food sustainability concerns. The idea was that by developing pesticide and herbicide resistant crops, farmers would be able to increase their yields and decrease their costs. In reality, bugs and weeds have become increasingly resistant to these chemical treatments, leading to excessive application. More spraying means more costs for the farmers, more health risks and more environmental concerns.
Many Canadians are unaware that the foods they choose contain GMO ingredients. In Canada, there are 4 GMO crops currently grown; soy, canola, sugar beets and corn. This means that common Nutrition Fact label ingredients derived from these crops such as soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch and corn syrup also pose a risk. It is estimated that 70% of processed foods purchased at the grocery store contain GMO ingredients!
As of 2014, more than 60 countries around the world ban, restrict, or label GMO ingredients. Canada is not yet one of them even though, in the past decade, polls have consistently shown that nearly 90% of Canadians wants to know what is in their food and support the labeling of genetically modified foods.
In the meantime, there are fantastic initiatives working to inform and empower you when it comes to choosing non-GMO products!
Youth are taking action across the nation to advocate for a healthy future. Community programs work to empower children and youth with greater food literacy, life-long healthy eating habits, increased food skills and an understanding of environmental health issues.
The “NON-GMO Project Verification seal” indicates that the product bearing the seal has gone through a verification process handled by an independent third-party technical administrator to assess the compliance with the Standard. Although it does not ensure GMO-free products, this non-profit initiative is a step in the sustainable direction for Canada and U.S. markets.
Most importantly, remember that the Canadian Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs. Look for the Canada Organic logo!