February 26, 2014, Ottawa. Major grocery chains in Canada were reminded again today of consumer concern over genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) food, and GM sweet corn in particular.
“We don’t want GM sweet corn in our grocery stores. This insect-killing corn is not appetizing,” said André Nault of the Quebec network Vigilance OGM, “GM sweet corn is the first GM whole food grown in Canada and consumers don’t want to eat sweet corn that’s genetically modified to kill insects.”
The sweet corn is genetically modified to be toxic to a class of insects such that if the pests eat the sweet corn they will die.
The petition “Get GM Sweet Corn Out!” was signed by 9291 consumers and sent to the major grocery chains – Loblaw, Metro, Sobeys (IGA), Walmart Canada, Jim Patterson Group (Save On Foods/Overwaitea), and Farm Boy. The petition asks retailers to ensure there is no genetically modified sweet corn, or other GM fruits or vegetables, in stores. The petition signatures were collected online by Vigilance OGM and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN).
“Many consumers are telling us they didn’t buy any sweet corn last year, to avoid inadvertently buying GM corn-on-the-cob,” said Lucy Sharratt of CBAN.
“Without GM food labelling, consumers are being kept in the dark,” said Nault.
Last October, CBAN found GM sweet corn in samples of fresh sweet corn from BC, Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia. At the same time, tests conducted by the TV show Les Verts contre-attaque (Télé Québec) found GM sweet corn in Quebec.
“Retail chains should take this opportunity to make their entire produce sections non-GM. This would alleviate headaches for both retailers and consumers,” said Sharratt.
There are currently very few GM fruits and vegetables that could be in Canadian grocery stores. In addition to GM sweet corn grown in Canada and the U.S., there could be some GM papaya from Hawaii and China, and some GM squash varieties from the U.S. A GM “non-browning” apple could be approved in Canada and the U.S. this year.
For more information: André Nault, Vigilance OGM, 819-562-4413; Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 809 1103.