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A genetically modified organism is a living organism artificially created through genetic manipulation. The most recent techniques of genetic engineering consist of removing one or several genes from a living organism (virus, bacteria, animal or plant) to graft it onto another organism. This is also called transgenic manipulation.
Different from traditional crop improvement techniques, transgenic manipulation allows for the crossing of boundaries between species and to build new living organisms heretofore unknown to us in nature.
The resulting ecological risks are irreversible and as yet not completely known. Among these risks we can name: loss of biodiversity, increase in the use of pesticides, the appearance of invading species, the elimination of insects and other beneficial organisms, and the contamination of organisms resulting in cross-pollination with transgenic plants. The long-term health risks are unknown, but certainly include risk of allergy, increase in antibiotic resistance, etc..
Researchers speak out against GMOs: “GMOs do nothing aside from making money.”
Foods most exposed to GMOs
The most widespread use of transgenic manipulation is with soy, corn, cotton and canola. These represent approximately 99% of cultivated land in North America. Tomatoes and potatoes in transformed foods sometimes come from transgenic seeds. Health Canada estimates that 60-70% of transformed food products contain transgenic ingredients.
The government of Canada is heavily dependent on the United States in the military, political and economical spheres. Since the inception of the Free Trade Agreement, American businesses have seen their influence grow in the Canadian economic milieu.
American deregulation has caused repercussions in Canada as witnessed by the acceleration of the approval process for biotechnological products and by the refusal of the federal government to adopt specific regulations concerning the risks inherent in GMOs. In less than six years 44 genetically modified plants have been approved for commercial release in Canada.
There are at present no laws in Canada obliging specific labeling of genetically modified foods, unlike upwards of 35 countries that have either adopted or are in the process of adopting laws on this matter.