The Issue of Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods in Canada
This is an 11 page paper discussing the issue of labeling genetically engineered foods in Canada. Currently within Canada recent consumer polls have indicated that over 95% of Canadians want genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GM) foods labeled as such. While this may appear to be a straight forward issue simply resolved with mandatory legislation, within Canada there are still no laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered food. Currently, businesses, the government and consumers seem to be at an impasse in regards to voluntary labeling which was introduced in 1999 and the possibility of mandatory labeling currently enforced in over 35 countries worldwide. While mandatory labeling should be introduced in Canada, consumers should also be aware that in order to do so, the federal government will have to implement a complex and costly monitoring process in order to enforce the legislation properly. In addition, because of cross pollination which has already occurred between genetically engineered crops and organic crops, most legislators feel that most labels would have to include the phrase “may contain genetically engineered material” which would not provide the consumer with any more information than he or she has now. While labeling should be considered because of consumer demand, consumers must also realize the impact this may have on Canada within the international market, as Canada now is the world’s third largest producer of genetically engineered crops and its major trading partner, the United States, has no current labeling restrictions. Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are responsible for current labeling policies which focus mainly on health and safety concerns in a product and the mandatory exclusion of non-factual information on a product label. Should GE labeling be required in Canada, it should not deter consumers from the health and safety concerns. Lastly, because genetically engineered foods have been deemed as safe, that is why they are now not required to be labeled. This is also controversial as some advocate that since GE foods have only been in use for 10 years, this is not enough time to evaluate long term impact on consumer health and the environment.
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