August 5, 2015
GE Crops and Foods (On the Market)
It's been 20 years since genetically engineered (GE; also called genetically modified or GM) crops and foods were first introduced into Canada.
Only 4 GE crops are currently grown in Canada:
These 4 crops end up on our grocery store shelves as processed food ingredients and are also widely used for animal feed and to make biofuels. These crops are engineered to be either insect resistant or herbicide tolerant, and many now carry both traits.
We could also be importing a small amount of:
5. GE papaya (from Hawaii)
6. GE squash - some varieties of yellow crookneck squash (from the US)
7. GE cottonseed oil
8. milk products from the US made with the use of recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone
There is a GE potato that was approved in late 2014 in the US, but it is not yet on the market.
Though the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada have approved over 81 varieties of 12 GE crops and foods under their category of "Plants with Novel Traits" and "Novel Foods", not all of these are products of genetic engineering and many are not currently on the market. Many GE crop varieties that are approved are not on the market in Canada, or anywhere else in the world, such as GE potatoes and GE tomatoes. See the below list for the exact breakdown of what genetically engineered seeds farmers in Canada are planting, and what GE foods are on our grocery store shelves.
GE Crops Globally
2015: GM crops (predominately corn, soy, and cotton - herbicide tolerant and/or insect resistant) are still confined to a handful of countries with highly industrialized, export-oriented agricultural sectors. Numbers from 2014 show that one country alone - the U.S. - plants 40% of the global GM crop area. 77% of the world's GM crops are planted in the U.S.(40%), Brazil (23%) and Argentina (13%). India (GM cotton) and Canada (GM canola, corn, soy and sugarbeet) both plant 6% of the global acres of GM.
GE Crops in Europe
2011: The only GE crop currently cultivated in the EU is Monsanto's insect resistant (Bt) corn (MON810). In 2010, GE corn was produced in the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, Romania, and Slovakia on a cultivation surface of about 82 000 hectares equaling a 13% decrease compared to 2009. Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg have all banned the use and sale of the MON 810 GE corn due to concerns about its long term effects.