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Get answers to your nutrition & healthy eating questions.
Call us toll-free† at 1-877-510-510-2 to speak directly with a Registered Dietitian.
Have you ever wondered where food comes from? When we think about it, a picture of a farmer planting seeds often comes to mind. But did you know that some seeds are genetically altered in a laboratory before being planted? These seeds are called genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and they grow into genetically modified (GM) foods.
Health Canada makes sure that all foods, including GM foods, are safe for us to eat. Read on to learn more about GMOs and GM foods.
A GMO is a plant-based organism, like a seed, that:
GMOs are used to grow GM foods.
Since 1994, about 85 GM foods have been approved for sale in Canada. This includes GM foods grown in Canada and GM foods that have been imported from other countries.
Only four main GM crops are currently grown in Canada including canola, soybean, corn and sugar beet. Most of these GM crops are exported to other countries.
Before a GM food can be sold in Canada, Health Canada makes sure it is safe to eat and will not harm your health or the environment. Health Canada completes a thorough safety assessment on all GM foods before they are allowed to be sold. A safety assessment can take many years.
No. GM foods do not have to be labelled in Canada. However, some food companies choose to label their products “GMO free”.
Labelling of GM foods is challenging. This is because a food like GM corn can be used as an ingredient in many other foods like cereal, yogurt, frozen entrees and canned soup. All of these foods would need to be labelled as having genetically modified ingredients.
GM crops have been developed to have certain benefits. GM foods may:
Some common questions asked about GM foods include:
If you are concerned about eating GM foods, try the following tips:
GM foods available in Canada are considered safe for us to eat. While Canada does produce some GM crops, most of them are exported. Labelling GM foods is not required in Canada, so it can be difficult to know if a food product contains GM ingredients. If you are concerned about eating GM foods, call food companies to see if they use GM ingredients, look for “GMO free” foods, try buying organic foods or plant your own garden with GMO-free seeds.
If you have more questions about GM foods, call an EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.
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Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.