Skip to main content
Welcome to
super saver spring
offer ends april 20
save over $140
save over 85%
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
Welcome to
super saver spring
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

An overwhelming majority of Canadians thinks that the government has provided insufficient information about genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food and believes that all foods containing GMOs should be labelled as such.

The Consumers' Association of Canada released a study Wednesday which indicates the depth of distrust Canadians have for GMO foods, which have become increasingly common over the last decade.

"Mandatory labels on food products tell consumers how much salt, fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates are in a particular product," said Peggy Kirkeby, vice-president of issues and policy at the Consumers' Association. "Yet, when it comes to genetically modified ingredients, the federal government has said 'no, they aren't going to give this information to Canadian consumers'."

Story continues below advertisement

The poll - which was conducted by Decima research and surveyed 2,000 people in October of this year - found that 91 per cent of Canadians wanted labels listing GMO content and that 88 per cent think such labels should be made mandatory. Support for labelling was found to cross differences of income, gender, region or education.

"It is very rare to get Canadians to overwhelmingly agree on a single issue, but the mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods is such an issue," Ms. Kirkeby said. "There is no doubt that Canadians want information about what is in their food. … Consumers simply just don't trust the food industry to voluntarily provide the necessary information."

In Canada - where extensive consultations have been held by the Canadian General Standards Board, the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors and other interested groups - industry advocates are firm that GMO products pose no danger and that mandatory labelling would pose an onerous burden.

About 70 per cent of processed foods contain GMOs, major crops that come from genetically altered seed are corn, soybeans and canola. Some of these products are labelled by the food industry, which currently operates under a voluntary disclosure system.

Ms. Kirkeby said that the issue cuts across partisan lines, noting that members from four of the five major federal parties have proposed private member's bills mandating labelling of GMO food.

"There will be a new prime minister and Liberal government next week and Canadians are looking forward to fresh ideas," she said. "On behalf of Canadian consumers the Consumers' Association will be formally asking the new government to introduce legislation to mandate labelling of genetically modified foods."

A government advisory panel in the summer of 2002 issued a report recommending that voluntary labelling be used for the next five years and called for:

Story continues below advertisement

  • Ottawa to designate someone to oversee government communication about GM foods;
  • federal regulators be more accountable;
  • long-term research be conducted into GM and other "novel organisms" in the food chain;
  • research into the environmental impact of GM crops be examined;
  • research into long-term heath effects related to the consumption of specific foods, including GM foods;
  • creation of a committee composed of industry and non-government organizers to discuss GM foods.

Dozens of foreign governments have adopted labelling regulations that mandate disclosure of nutritional or compositional changes, though they tend to exempt highly processed foods like cooking oils, starches and sugars. As yet, no government insists that foodstuffs from animals raised on feed including GMOs be labelled.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies