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This tasty fruit salad also has the same genes as insects, animals and viruses. Thanks to GMOs.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been in our food system since 1996. For about twelve years we have been consuming food that involves the splicing of genes from one species to another in a lab. What is striking about GE food is the lack of public debate and media coverage in North America, particularly in the US and Canada. If you compare this to the last election in France where a central issue of the candidates' platforms were GM foods, and more broadly the extent to which GM foods are dealt with in Europe, there leaves a lot to be desired here in Canada. The tricky thing with addressing GMOs is that they require addressing economic, social and ethical issues.
Bringing these issues into a Canadian context requires asking who should be making decisions over what Canadians eat. One would think in one of the most highly regarded democracies in the world Canadians would be able to at least have a say over whether they should eat strawberries with fish genes. In the least case Canadians should at least have the right to know whether the food they are ingesting has been genetically modified. Unfortunately in both Canada and the US regulations over genetically modified food are made by industry, and industry has all the scientists gaining from these new developments. Our country has been addressing GMOs with what has been called the principle of substantial equivalence. This means that no new regulations are made on food that has the same taste, look, and nutritional content as trh traditional one. The Canadian government feels that it need not be accountable of its citizens in an issue that affects everyone and has not been around long enough for anyone to see potential effects in the long term. Sixty years ago smoking was thought to have no adverse health effects, yet look what we know now. Maybe GMOs are perfectly healthy for the average person to consume, but until that day Canadians should have a choice on whether they eat GM foods or not.
Labeling GM and GM-free food in Europe has had such a strong effect on the food market that many supermarkets no longer carry GM foods simply because people don't want them. Maybe the EU is a little too strict with its importation laws and anyone who has read about the huge stink the US is making on how it cannot sell its soy (which is 90% GMO) or corn (70% GMO) in the EU will know what I'm talking about. However, the EU's stance as a precautionary actor is in my opinion admirable and in the least sense prudent. The basic idea around the EU's precautionary principle is that since there is no extensive information on GE foods and there is the potential for irreparable damage. The lengths they have gone with process based labeling is extremely impressive. This means that every ingredient in a food is traced back to its origin, literally from the farm to the fork, and labeled accordingly.
Ultimately,the Canadian government should take the initiative that realizes the stakes GMOs have for society. This arena's not only is a key component to future scientific progress, the control of future food and seed supplies but it is already affecting the direction of Canada’s economic growth. The decisions that Canada is making over GMOs (and those its not) are creating an identity that Canada might not necessarily want in the future.
Nevertheless, it's important to also acknowledge that, GMO’s do have the potential to do a lot of good in this world. The testing currently being done in this field is astounding with prototypes for foods with enhanced nutritients and further down the road even pharmaceutical plants that could cure common colds or even more serious diseases. The potential these foods have in serving the developing world is boundless, but every potential risk must be addressed before we should truly trust GM foods.



2008-09-08 01:54:23

Something else that's particularly misleading in it's labeling? "Made in Canada"

For something to be considered as made in Canada, 51% of the ingredients/materials must be Canadian. So Juice - which, can come from anywhere, as long as it's composed of 51% of Canadian water, is considered Canadian. That also goes for toys, clothing and other products. Some may not see this as a big deal, but when you consider the recent problems with quality control of certain products "Made in Canada" should not be as misleading as it is. "Made in Canada" should be 100% Canadian.

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