How to avoid Genetically Engineered Food

(A Greenpeace Shoppers Guide)

What is GE Food?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are created by taking genes from organisms such as bacteria, viruses or animals and inserting them into other, often unrelated species. Unlike traditional breeding, genetic engineering creates new organisms that would never occur in nature, creating new and unpredictable health and environmental risks. The term “genetically engineered food” refers to any product containing or derived from GMOs. In Canada, up to 70 percent of the processed foods found in grocery stores contain GE ingredients. The most common GE ingredients come from crops like corn, soy, canola and cotton. Biotechnology companies like Monsanto genetically engineer these crops to produce a pesticide or to withstand the application of herbicide.

GE tomatoThe Health and Environmental Risks of GMO’s
The planting of GE crops on millions of hectares of land and their introduction into our food supply is a giant genetic experiment. As living, reproducing organisms, GMOs form a type of living pollution that can spread across vast areas creating environmental risks that are unprecedented and possibly irreversible. Some of the dangers include the loss of biodiversity, the development of super-weeds and super-pests leading to increased use of toxic pesticides, contamination of organic and conventional crops, and harm to beneficial organisms. Health risks associated with GE food include the development of antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, nutritional changes and the creation of toxins. And if the country’s authorities require NO long-term testing of GE foods, it’s impossible to determine what effects they are having.

What about Organic food?
The use of genetically engineered organisms is prohibited under organic food standards. Organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals or irradiation. Organic standards require that attentive care be given – care that promotes health and meets the behavioural needs of livestock. GE animal feed is also prohibited. The best way to avoid GE food is to purchase 100% certified organic products, whole foods and fresh products.

GE strawberry GE flower

Take Action!
Food companies continue to use genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food, ignoring the wishes of the majority of its countrymen. Wanting to help and provide information, the Greenpeace has issued a Shoppers Guide containing lists of some common foods found in grocery stores that are made with ingredients from genetically engineered crops. The guide is not intended to be comprehensive but to offer a starting point for shoppers who are concerned about GE food.

As a general rule, check ingredient lists for products made with corn, soy, cotton or canola. The information stated in the Guide, comes primarily from direct communication between Greenpeace and food producers. Some are reacting to what their customers want by providing non-GE food, while others have refused to do so. The Shoppers Guide is a help guide to navigate the unlabeled aisles of our local supermarkets. It provides information regarding types of food that are subjected to GE engineering, and are as follows: baby food, baking supplies, beverages, candy and chocolates, cereals and breakfast, canned and jarred foods, condiments, cookies and deserts, dried meals and sauce mixes, frozen foods, salad dressings and oils, snack foods, dried foods, soups, pasta sauces, dairy and meat alternatives.

For further information regarding this article, please visit

GE corn

Written by Juliane Petrovska,

Food Technologist


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