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Food and Nutrition

Genetically Modified Foods ľ Myths and Facts

MYTH: GM foods are dangerous.

FACT: Scientists have concluded that genetically modified foods pose no more risk to human health than conventional foods. In fact, foods from genetically modified plants are subject to a far higher level of regulatory oversight and of scientific requirements than traditionally bred plants. Each new GM crops are subject to a thorough and robust food safety assessment before they are allowed on the Canadian market.

MYTH: GM foods are not as nutritious as non-GM foods.

FACT: Foods from genetically modified plants authorized to date are as safe and nutritious as foods from traditionally bred plants. Nutritional assessments for foods from genetically engineered plants that have been evaluated by Health Canada through our safety assessment process have shown that GM foods are generally as nutritious as foods from comparable traditionally bred plants.

MYTH: GM foods are not adequately tested.

FACT: Health Canada requires product developers to follow specific guidelines to get approval to market novel foods and novel feeds. They must supply evaluators with thorough and detailed information about their novel food products before they can receive approval to sell or advertise them in Canada. If the evaluator determines that the data is not sufficient, additional information or testing may be required. Health Canada scientists continually review scientific literature regarding the safety of genetically modified foods. To date, no study has caused Health Canada scientists to alter their conclusions about any previously authorized GM food product.

MYTH: Not identifying GM foods can be confusing to consumers.

FACT: Currently, food manufacturers may indicate through voluntary labelling whether foods have or have not been developed through genetic engineering, provided that such labeling is truthful and not misleading. This is consistent with the approach taken in other countries, including the United States. To date, Health Canada has not identified any health and safety concerns that would require the mandatory labelling of any GM foods assessed by the Department. If there was a particular health risk associated with a GM food, it would only be authorized by Health Canada if labelling could mitigate the risk for those it could affect. In that situation, additional labelling would be mandatory.

MYTH: GM foods are difficult to avoid.

FACT: Consumers wishing to avoid consuming foods that may be derived from a genetically modified source may do so by choosing foods that indicate that they are not products of genetic engineering. Food manufacturers may choose to apply such claims to their products and the "Voluntary Labelling and Advertising of Foods that are and are not Products of Genetic Engineering" provides further guidance on these types of claims.