Consumers still opposed to GM food

If given a choice, most consumers would choose to buy a non-GM food item — though most don’t read the labels

Health Canada says the results of a 2016 survey of consumer views on genetically modified foods will help the department communicate to Canadians.

However, opinions remain largely unchanged from previous research that showed consumers are skeptical about, if not completely opposed to, genetically modified foods, the report said.

“The findings from this public opinion research will be used by Health Canada to more effectively communicate to Canadians how food products derived from biotechnology are assessed and regulated under the Food and Drug Regulations, as well as the safety of these products,” said a statement issued after federal health minister Jane Philpott was unavailable for an interview.

GM foods have been on the Canadian market for decades and although government has repeatedly assured consumers of their safety, consumers remain wary.

The report, done by the Strategic Counsel market research firm last March after consulting focus groups and an online survey, found people don’t know much about GM foods, don’t understand why they are necessary, and don’t know which information to believe.

Related stories in this issue:

This is a challenge for policy makers and those tasked with communicating food safety and regulatory policies, such as Health Canada, the report said.

“The massive anti-GMO movement, and accompanying volume of information, presents a significant challenge for Health Canada in terms of being a credible neutral regulator, in that there would be a strong likelihood that any decisions/announcements would be received through a conditioned lens.”

Key among the findings is consumers’ lack of basic understanding of food science and technology.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said the term genetic modification is negative, and many believe that process involves injecting foods with hormones, antibiotics, steroids or other substances.

“The term ‘Franken-food’ came up in almost every focus group in the context of discussions about GM foods, although many consumers clearly know very little about the actual science of genetic modification,” the report said.

“It is clear that, for quite some time, there has been and continues to be an information void on this issue which has been rather successfully filled by the anti-GMO view.”

The survey found 26 percent of respondents said they would be comfortable eating GM foods and only 22 percent supported their development and sale in Canada.

“It is clear that significant efforts to inform and educate Canadians would be required in order to shift views in a more positive direction.”

The results were similar across the focus groups and the survey, indicating little difference in opinions by demographics or region.

Even on the Prairies, where consumers might be considered closer to the farm, parents in the focus group were more neutral to negative in their initial impression of GM foods, compared to the general population, which tended to be neutral to positive.

“What was perhaps somewhat surprising in this location was that there was virtually no significant difference between Saskatoon and other locations in terms of their understanding of and views regarding GM foods,” said the report.

Quebec City focus group participants appeared to have greater confidence in the safety of GM foods.

But the report also identifies that nearly half of the respondents don’t understand why GM foods are necessary. Consumers don’t believe the argument that genetic modification will produce more affordable, sustainable food and ensure food supply.

More than half believe GM is a way for corporations to increase their profits, and 78 percent want their GM food labelled.

But the research also found that 76 percent of respondents still list price as the most significant factor when they buy food.

To Stuart Smyth, a University of Saskatchewan professor who researches biotechnology and innovations, it signals that consumers say one thing but do another.

“They may respond to a survey and say absolutely I want this or I want that, but when the rubber meets the road and they’re in the grocery store, it’s get in, get what you want, and get out as quick as you can,” he said.

Similarly, 78 percent of respondents believe that GM foods should be labelled but 45 percent said they rarely or never look at labels.

“I struggle to see how they can get to 78 percent of a concern level,” Smyth said. “Consumer purchasing decisions don’t correlate to what they’re expressing.”

Still, the survey found that, if consumers had a choice, 62 percent would choose to buy a non-GM food item.

Finally, the report noted that 70 percent of Canadians view the federal government as a trustworthy source when it comes to GM foods. This compares to 54 percent of scientists working for food product companies and half of environmental activists.

Smyth said governments, agriculture and academics have not communicated the technology well and it will likely take decades more to educate consumers.

The study cost $119,060.19.

About the author


  • Martin Axe

    So after spending near 120k on a survey “federal health minister Jane Philpott was unavailable for an interview.” and ” Stuart Smyth, a University of Saskatchewan professor who researches biotechnology and innovations” refuses to believe the results that 78% of consumers want GM food labelling, my guess is, yes ” it will likely take decades more to educate (cough…. brainwash) consumers.”…..Best of luck with that.

  • richard

    What consumers are expressing sir, is that they are fed up with elites telling them what is good for them……when it is obvious to anyone with their critical faculties intact that the entire food stream is becoming increasingly toxic, feudal and unsustainable…….And all the handwringing and projecting of negative traits on the “uneducated” consumer is living proof where the ignorance really lies.

    • Stuart Smyth

      I’m quite interested in the source of information for your statement that our food is “increasingly toxic, feudal and unsustainable”. Other than organic food, which is highly toxic and the media does an excellent job of quantifying the annual number of consumer deaths following an organic food safety failure, I’m not aware of other food toxicity problems. In fact, our food production has never been safer or more sustainable. Please include the source of information for your statement.

      • Harold

        You get your information from the media? I have noticed that since the onset of “healthy” GM products, that the hospitals are not spilling over the top by those refusing to eat gm food. Is “organic” a new cause of sickness and disease? Will people die if they eat natural state food? Food is our health, and the claim that “our food production has never been safer” does not balance with the current level of sickness. Furthermore, where is the proof that human gm consumption is product safe? Is it product GM labeled for identification and verification? Is gm harming people? – is a question that can never be verified so long as gm remains hidden in food. Your stance on this subject comes to you highly convenient, to say the least.
        The deaths associated with produce, were caused by improper handling, and not caused by the plant it-self to prove a health risk between GM. GM can be improperly handled and prove the same results. GM plants are “organic” as well, and in a hospital report, is labeled organic. They don’t verify GM technology as a cause for death.
        Nice try, but you’re running out of steam against the gaining swell of public knowledge.

    • Benjamin Edge

      The fact that they are repeating easily debunked claims about GM food, as are you, is evidence that the disinformation campaign (brainwashing if you will) by activist groups and the organic industry has worked.

      • richard

        …….then please, commence to start debunking???

      • Harold

        It is interesting to me that the GMO camp can brain wash no one. How do you suppose they got so lucky as to have all of the intelligent life forms flock toward them, leaving the dull and ignorant and illiterate people behind and exposed. I can conclude with “….and the cow jumped over the moon”.Lucky me.

    • richard

      ,,,,,followed by the rote fear, loathing and envy of vested reactionaries towards anyone who dares to question the sanctity of status quo ignorance……

      • Stuart Smyth

        Surely to goodness requesting the source of your information can’t be that threatening to you? I’m required to reference all of the information I provide. I simply ask that those opposed do the same. Richard, are you able to provide a reference for your claim that Canada’s food system is increasingly toxic?

        • richard

          …..GM seeds coated with persistent/ systemic fungicide/pesticide…..four to six passes of agritoxins per season….residues of both glyphosate/neonics persist in food, air and water….battery livestock addiction to birth to death abuse of antibiotics……young farmers forced to rent land, rent equipment, rent seeds, rent labor, and call themselves independent entrepeneurs? Is this feudal and toxic enough for you Stuart?……. By the way all of the above are reported, in fact sometimes endorsed, on the pages of this high quality news journal……. My “source” is reality sir…. and you would not habitually find yourself defending the same tired agri doctrine, if you actually listened to the consumers speaking loud and clear over and over and over…. …

          • Stuart Smyth

            Yes, chemicals are used in all types of food production, including organic. Just because you have an aversion to innovation in agriculture and food production, doesn’t make the production of food toxic. Please provide a peer reviewed academic reference illustrating how our food system is toxic. Your innuendos simply don’t suffice.

          • richard

            The fact that you are unable to refute anything I have stated, referring to it rather, as “innovation”, speaks loudly to the world of “better living through denial” that corporate heelers and ivory tower eggheads are bound to….. I have tried to help you understand why seventy eight percent of the public are fed up with agribiz hyperbole, you choose to ignore at your peril…. I assume the public trust expected something objective for their hundred and twenty thousand dollar outlay…. You disabused that notion, with patent disdain for both the public and organic production…..Which begs the question…. Who peer reviews your articles here? Because they appear to be neither scientific nor journalistic in their integrity.

          • Stuart Smyth

            The beauty of the peer review system is that it is anonymous. This is why you’re unable to provide any confirmation of your rambling theories and stories of denial, the anti-GM crowd can’t get their BS peer reviewed and published. The fact is, GM food is the safest on the market and benefits farmers and consumers. Thank goodness our regulatory system is based on science and not on unsubstantiated scare stories from the likes of you and your crowd.

          • richard

            … a half dozen new disease strains in canola and massive herbicide resistance are living proof of the absolute flight from complexity that drives this world…… Food is the single most personal and political act humans engage in three times a day……and drenching it in dubious xenobiotic substances is no longer acceptable to an increasingly educated and discerning public…. Food is sacrosanct…..thats the zeitgeist…. and you can lead, follow or get out of the way….

          • Stuart Smyth

            I led a farm survey 10 years ago and am leading another one this winter. After 10 years of growing GM canola, 94% farmers reported no difference in managing weeds, they had economic gains of $350-400 million per year and used 1.3 million fewer kilograms of chemical active ingredient. Sorry Richard, your rumours and baseless accusations don’t stand up to the farmers reported facts. I’m proud to be able to report the benefits that farmers experience from GM crops.

          • richard

            Perhaps you should finish this years study because ten year old surveys are irrelevant…. Today there exists Group one, two, three and four and five herbicide resistance in Canada and Alberta Agriculture reports the same…. Clubroot, blackleg, pythium diseases are mutating faster than you can think……and GM canola itself has become one of the biggest weed problems in many regions. Look at the crops that follow canola to witness the spectacle…..there have never been dirtier crops of lentils and peas than now as a result of resistance….. Canola is on life support from before it goes in the ground Stuart…. it is the dirtiest, hungriest crop on the prairies….. Look at Alberta Ag. cost of production ok, and then try to tell me how cost efficient it is…… It occurs to me after watching American television last night, and every single commercial being for a pharmaceutical, that a culture that has normalized disease, and the need for pharma into their lifestyle, should expect nothing less than their food production to be addicted as well…… The GM feed the planet, save the environment, zero till (ten passes per year) platitudes just dont wash with enlightened consumers and all the self righteous indignation of politically motivated publicly paid employees is only making it more incredible.

          • G Arias
          • Denise

            GMseed/pesticide agriculture is a great example of a cult- a culture of blind faith and belief in “the amazing technology and science”.
            The science, the cult leaders talk about, is pseudo-science concocted to support the stakeholders’ greedy ambitions and wants. The power of money, like religious zealots, can buy blind faith and irrational behavior from their followers. Even when the world is falling down around them,they believe in their mirage.
            -Superweeds blocking their view
            – Mutating bugs enjoying their crops
            – Environmental degradation
            -And silent spring.
            If they have to die for their beliefs, they will.
            But I don’t think it is right that they get to take the rest of us down with them and that we must pay for their culture of deception.

          • richard

            Denise you write with honesty and I believe the reason we are both incredulous is that we are dealing with a caste of highly educated individuals who have been totally indoctrinated in the myths of reductionist science… that one plus two equals three….. The concept of ecology is a dirty word… terrifying to these people for no other reason than it often humiliates… plus two does not always equal three……and to proponents of an ego based agriculture, that is verboten…… Yet ecology is what has driven the entire electro-bio-mechanical process since day one…..and will not be changed by any quantity of hubris….. In a hundred years of agriculture we have not yet resolved the most fundamental issues of of disease, pest and weed…… In fact they have only become more acute, forced by trying to superimpose reductionist science on complex ecosystems. This is retrograde and ultimately suicidal… simply cannot push rope…..What other field of applied science is habitually buried in the vainglory of trying to defend indefensible concepts, constantly at odds with the public and having to rely on half truths and victimization to reconcile….. War on nature is a dead end street…..You are correct, it looks like religion… smells like money….. but I think the sad truth is that it is nothing more aging white males who are in way too deep to ever admit that “all is not well in the state of Denmark”…. but I could be wrong.

          • patzagame

            Couldn’t have stated that better,TY.

          • Dale Sali

            What do we grow that is GM in Canada?
            Rapeseed for oil used extensively in processed foods.
            Corn for feed and a multitude of different corn related products for processed food. Most notably HFCS.
            Sugar beets. Well… Sugar and feed.
            Soy for oil and a multitude of different ingredients for processed food and feed.

            To say that Genetic Modification of our food supply is required to feed us says that we need to eat more processed foods.

            The toxicity of GM foods is the “food” that they are giving us.

          • FarmersSon63

            Food high in nutrients and calories is not poison by any definition.

          • Cathy Murphy
        • Martin Axe

          “I struggle to see how they can get to 78 percent of a concern level,” Smyth said. ….So you are making a claim you think the survey result is false?, Obviously the biotech companies employees and shareholders, the farmers currently using GM technology not to mention the paid for scientists, the lobby groups, the fastfood industry all want GM foods but the consumers DON’T want to consume it, when you understand that you will understand why the EU, Russia, and almost all the other countries in the world bar the US and Canada, and some minor other countries, are NOT interested in producing GM foods, and why would they?, when patents are held on seeds by several multinationals and its apparent the worlds food chain is attempted at being taken over, we the consumer will NOT allow it. And further to that in the US and Canada sufficient food warnings and labels are not being provided to give consumers CHOICE, so I suggest you scratch your head some more Sir and re analyse the survey until you come to the realization and the reality of the results.

          • Stuart Smyth

            Consumers are constantly mislead by environmentalists simply using GM foods to raise money and increase their political lobbying. Consumers that have had the science explained to them are increasingly supportive of biotech. Too bad the environmentalists have to lie to the public to raise money!

          • patzagame

            As a consumer,I have read the science behind GE modified food crops(Bt and RR).The “science” is not convincing. Perhaps you know of some studies showing the long term health benefits from consuming low levels of glyphosate found in most grocery shelf products?Or perhaps the benefits of ingesting Bt toxins on our gut biota?I’m sure there must be something to increase my support so I can feed more of these wonders to my children.

          • Stuart Smyth

            There are thresholds for all kinds of things like chemical residues, dirt and mouse [droppings]. Food is never 100% pure. A few years ago, CBC in Winnipeg tested a bunch of organic products and found chemical residues on 45% of them. Too bad the organic food industry hides this fact from consumers.

          • Harold

            … What are the levels of chemical residues, dirt and mouse [droppings] that are found on GM products? Wiped clean I presume? If 45% of the organic products were found to have trace chemical residues, is that a regulatory problem, or an “organic” plant problem’ or as you say, both.
            If a GM plant is a genetic heath concern, is that a mouse dropping problem, or a handling problem, or a plant problem, or a regulatory problem.
            Is a CBC telecast the reason all should flock to the GM camp? Did they test GM at the same time? If not, It wasn’t Chemical residue that they were looking for, it was to achieve an outcome by design.
            I would like to receive all GM research code and data from your university. Where can i freely get it? I would like to test. i already know the answer, but i would like to prove that it is hidden from me, and the public, and it’s you and your tele-prompt that I’m honored to hear.

          • Stuart Smyth

            I’m an ag economist, not a plant breeder, so I don’t conduct field trials. You’d have to contact research services to inquire about whether you could get access to any data.

          • Harold

            You are a economist, not a GMO breeder,(lab) and do not conduct field trials, and do not have access to original data and code. I stand corrected. My guess is probably policy analysis or Agri-business.

          • Martin Axe

            The only one who is mislead here is you it appears, “Consumers that have had the science explained to them are increasingly supportive of biotech”…..78% of consumers think not, and in Russia for example (a NON GM food country) the survey results are similar for example

            “Around 80% of survey respondents who bought food in Moscow stated that they would not purchase a product if it contained GM components” you can view that on the US governments own website, the facts don’t lie,


            This also coincides with US consumers as “More than 70 percent of Americans say they don’t want genetically modified organisms in their food”

            So whether it’s adding GMO food labels or NOT wanting to consume GM foods at all the results are consistently around the 80% mark,…….. you seem completely unable to compute what that actually means, It means the overwhelming majority of consumers DO NOT want to consume GM foods.

            You also appear to not understand that even a stubborn minority of people who refuse to eat GM foods can have an impact on overall consumer choices of the majority,

            You seem to not understand simple mathematics Sir, you have both dismissed the majority and completely ignored the stubborn minority.

          • richard

            Consumers are constantly mislead by corporate manipulation simply using GM foods to raise fear of scarcity, to raise public money and increase their political lobbying. Consumers that have the facts explained to them are increasingly negative of biotech. Too bad the corporate shills have to lie to the public using agents on the public payroll.

          • Harold

            How much money was/is used by the GM industry to lobby government to aide in a lie to the people? Give me a figure.
            If GM lobbing is so attractive, why are other industry’s less?
            Is the kettle calling the pot black? …

        • Keith Duhaime

          Hey, if the food system is increasingly toxic, we need more of it. At the time of confederaton (1867), life expectancy was about 47 for a Canadian. I’m in my 50s, now overdue at my local cemetary and yet still running marathons, pumping iron, etc. and seeing no end to it. …

          • richard

            Lets see…. so the twenty three thousand Americans who die each year from antibiotic resistant bacteria (CDC Atlanta GA) are irrelevant…. up to 68 thousand Canadians die each year from conditions related to obesity, costing the taxpayers costing taxpayers 4.6 to 7.1 billion dollars (govt. of Canada)…..and pharmaceuticals being the single largest expense (govt. of Canada) in a disease mitigation system we call “health care”……but youve made 50 and youre still pumping iron…. so lets bring on even more willful ignorance (complicity)… is cheap and after all its only growers working in the toxic slipstream….and theyre expendable?

          • Denise

            There were a lot of reasons why people died at younger ages back in the 19th and early 20th centuries There were lots of hardships, back-breaking ,hard ,physical work, and isolation factors to endure. Machinery was small and unreliable. However, the food was safe and nutritious,even though labour- intensive to grow.
            We are so fortunate to have the large equipment we have today to grow the abundance of food,we can.
            What I see now is a lot of cheap quality ,pesticide-laced food being grown and consumed plus many sick people.(NHL, IBS,Crohn’s disease,kidney disease, colon cancer and a variety of gut disorders).Many of my frieneds and family have gut problems.
            I know of many young people who have died of cancers,like NHL in rural communities, who “should have” lived to ripe old ages. Farm kids! They are buried in the local cemeteries.
            Be careful! You may be dancing with the devil.

        • April Reeves

          I can.

  • RobertWager

    Society has seen a multi-decade, multi-billion dollar, multi-national fear campaign (and sell alternative products) against GE crops and derived foods. It is no wonder the average consumer is confused. Coordinated, extensive education programs are needed to counter the anti-GMO campaign that is still going on.

    • Denise

      You mean get the progaganda machinery revved up into high speed to keep the farmers in fear of trying to jump off the GEseeds/pestiicdes treadmill?

    • Rob Bright

      More like a multi-decade, multi-billion dollar, mutli-national campaign to PROMOTE GE crops. Pseudoscientists … pushing this untested, unregulated technology on a daily basis, trolling social media articles like this one. …

    • patzagame

      AND you’ve had multi-decades to show evidence of long term health studies to show safety and point to and you’ve got nada. The average consumer is not confused,your coordinated,extensive education program is a failure.

    • Harold

      If GE or GMO disappears the world will DIE!!!! People will STARVE!!!!
      “ORGANIC” will be the only thing left!!!!! Do you mean this FEAR Campaign? Are you looking to see what “Mother Nature’s” “bank account” is full full of?
      66 billion dollar’s can feed whom today, and for how long? This squandered money was extracted from in-between agriculture. Of course world hunger is not their problem. It is your problem and still ours. After multi-decades and billions and billions and billions of “sustainable” “value added” corporate profit, we are in the same boat. Organic side is all to blame. See, with only the knowledge of the previous sentence, I don’t need to go to your “coordinated, extensive educational programing” to get programed. Confusion is gone. I get it.

  • G Arias
  • Dr

    Of course researchers, professors and Big Ag farmers and right wing agricultural newspapers will defend and publish information to protect the massive companies that pay their bills. Are the greenhouses at the college of Ag full of organic trials? Are the students being taught organic methods? Are most fields organic? Are the full 2 page adds about organic certification? No! And I don’t need to cite any research to know that this is true.

    Why are there less and less farmers? Why are there less and less grain companies? Why is there less and less species diversity in Big Ag? Some of us do our own personal research and it is called “keeping track” we are not all being funded by huge corporations that are geared to putting all eggs in one basket. My grandfather said “when adages start to come true it is getting too late to react” . If we keep on this track of losing species diversity and whittling down attitudes so that everyone thinks alike we will sometime run out of options.

    One last question. Why are chemicals found in organic food? Because Big Ag farmers blanket cover all crops with pesticides at speeds of 20kph with huge machinery, sometimes in the dark. It is quite a lot like having the trots in public with no pants and no diaper. The only ad hoc solution is to clean it up, and it stinks to high heaven.

    Some Big Ag farmers don t respect organic agriculture enough to contain their drift. In fact they think any that all weeds need to be “cleaned up”. That is why there are chemicals in the air, soil and water which we all consume. This rampant disrespect is what fuels consumers distrust of Big Ag. Oh yes! and the facelessness of corporations. Enough said , the baby has been thrown out with the bath water and a new baby is being grown in the mothers womb. What will come out is anyone’s guess.

    • Stuart Smyth

      Chemicals are found in organic food because the organic industry has a long list of chemicals that are allowed to be sprayed on organic fields, yet the organic industry hides this fact from consumers. Thousands of farmers in North America grow GM corn which has the Bt trait to prevent insect damage in the plant. Organic farmers are allowed to spray Bt on their fields.

      • richard

        Organic farmers were allowed to use Bt long before your GM corn was a twinkle in your masters eye……the difference being that it was used judiciously then…..not as a prophylactic imbedded in the seed and setting the stage for rapid resistance….. Please name the list of chemicals allowed in organic agriculture and lets compare toxicity sir??? …

        • Stuart Smyth

          Gladly. All of these come from Cornell University’s Integrated Pest Management database, which is available at:
          The paper that explains the EIQ is at:

          This database provides a means of measuring the environmental impact quotient (EIQ) for a wide variety of chemicals.

          Roundup EIQ is 15.3

          The EIQ for some common organic eligible chemicals are:

          Sulfer – 32.6

          Rotenone – 29.4

          Ryania – 37.8

          The chemical used to spray some GM crops is about one half of the impact that common organic chemicals have. Bt has an EIQ of 13.3, which is added to the chemical load of organic farming, including multiple passes, a chemical which farmers of GM corn no longer have to apply. GM crops are the most environmentally sustainable means of producing crops, bar none.

          • richard

            It will of course be disturbing to you to discover that no organic farm on the prairies uses any of the above (ProCert Systems) the largest organic certification system in Canada…..although they are used periodically in horticulture. And although sulfer is an element thus persistent…..the other two are only persist for moments after they are applied…….Now lets talk about industrial conventional agritoxins…. neonicotinoids, atrazine, malathion, paraquat, diquat, dioxins in 2,4D, 2,45T, lindane, phosgene, bromine, arsenic, a whole gamut of organophosphates, cyanide…..all approved and used at one time or another many prophylactically without regard for thresholds….. and most of them banned or on the hit list as the result of abuse…….And you guys wonder why no one in the public believes a word you say….. bar none?

          • Stuart Smyth

            Once again, please provide a reference for your claims and accusations. Throughout this entire discussion you have so far provided zero references. I have documented my sources. I think the public is readily understanding the sham that is perpetuated by the organic movement and their deliberate efforts to lie, mislead and poison consumers. Interesting how you indicate that no organic farmers use these approved, highly toxic and environmentally damaging chemicals, yet the phrase ‘midnight spraying’ doesn’t come from conventional agriculture!

          • richard

            its funny….its all a sham…..but you keep coming back…. We both know theres a cold breeze blowing through the house of cards known as GM….. Curious there was never a mention of the “O” word in any of the articles in this series and yet somehow in three short days organic agriculture has become the villain in the crash of GM public opinion……All of the same tired apocryphal nonsense being dragged out yet again….lying, cheating, hating organic farmers and their dirty, scary food products…. all uttered from the mouths of those claiming to be educated….aimed at those who were not invited for one word to defend themselves…… The truth is that organic agriculture was around long before your feudal seeds….. It was a success story because it was self evident to producers and consumers…..and it will continue to grow in spite of all the sophistry and brow beating by tenured academics and agribiz missionaries, who cant stand the fact the someone can make a good living by doing the opposite of what they think. GM may be sophisticated technology, but it is immature as a marketing force…..completely disconnected from those who vote with their wallets….. And further, it really doesnt matter what you say…..I’m only the messenger.

          • Dale Sali

            Rotenone is on the way out and is rarely used in Organics. Although it is stil lused on tomatoes etc.. in California.

            Sulfer is used sparingly in organics. And there are many regulations in organics for the application of these products.

            Unless of course you look to the very large organic farms that practice industrialized agriculture organically. Planting monocultures and utilizing every pesticide that’s available to them, most times whether they need it or not.

            The small local organic farmer is more apt to shy away from using these products, practice regenerative agriculture, companion planting etc.

            Organics are becoming a good cash cow and the “big boys” are now seeing this and watering down the organic system at every turn to milk the system for all it’s worth.

          • FarmersSon63

            Yet less than 2% of all US farm acres grow organic crops.

      • Harold

        In one case the crop is sprayed, and in the other, the crop IS the pesticide. Does the crop know when not to be a pesticide as it is consumed by animal or human? Is there a little brain in there? Corn is widely used in the food processing industry undetected and where are the human heath studies. The body of a human is an environment too.
        what about these statements from the USDA study:
        1) When examined as a whole, the occurrence of pesticide residues on organic produce is considerably lower than the occurrence on conventional produce.
        2) A key finding was that 94 to 100 percent of organic food does not contain pesticide residues.
        Doesn’t look like the “Organic” industry getting much help hiding much with big brother around. Of course your position is that the dirty little liars should be punished by flocking over to considerably more pesticides in the conventional system. When did the human body become so pesticide deficient?
        You keep saying show me the proof. Where are the epidemiological studies for the past twenty years and I’ll show it to you. Oh ya, they were never done. Guess there is none.

  • Paul Kelly

    As a grocery store manager, it is abundantly clear that consumers are willing to pay a premium for organic and non-gmo crops. We see strong double digit growth in these products, in an otherwise flat sector. As per the western producer, Canada can’t even grow enough feed to meet organic demand….Maybe the problem is not convincing the consumer to buy GMOs, but convincing government and farms to acknowledge basic economics and commit more resources to growing more organic and non-gmo crops at a premium for growers, instead of creating policy at the behest of biotech.

    • richard

      Well stated Paul….. unfortunately we live in times when public research dollars are being replaced by private agendas, which creates its own parallel universe of bafflegab and subterfuge…… Look at the anger coming from the mouths of “professionals” on these threads to realize how disconnected they are from the leading edge of change……becoming anachronisms right before their very own eyes…..

      • Happy Farmer

        Uhem, cough,cough, I can’t refrain from commenting here.

        “Anger coming from the mouths of professionals”. I’m reading all the same comments as everyone else and it looks to me like the anger (and lack of substantiated evidence) is mostly from the mouths of private citizens.

        We have all digressed to an extremely useless and pointless argument which will never solve anything or benefit anyone. Shame on all of us!,

        • Harold

          It’s not all doom and gloom. Sometimes a comment will form a question which will inspire one to self-examine and do their own research. There is no shame in that, regardless of the outcome.

    • Happy Farmer

      Paul, i am still curious about a couple of things. According to the original article which states the results of a public opinion poll, consumers have an opinion and spending habits that are not based on any kind of firm facts or data.
      Are you as a grocery store manager choosing to educate the buyer with facts, or just capitalize on a profit margin?
      Who should educate the consumer, and with what information?

      • Paul Kelly

        Happy Farmer, full disclosure time -do you work for biotech, or PR for biotech? Tell us about you!

        Our store is a consumer cooperative, so “capitalizing on profit margin” isn’t as high on the objective list as serving our member-owners, with profit redistributed to the consumers or reinvested in their store. With 14,000 members, our own market surveys suggest (and sales confirm) that the shopping majority of them want natural and organic, and, you guessed it, Non-GMO Project Verified. Put something on the shelf with corn, soy, or even sugar that isn’t explicitly non-gmo, and we hear about it. In the study, 62% given the choice, would choose non-gmo, but among our owners (granted….BC Interior) it’s closer to 90%.

        I think our owner-shoppers are using the precautionary principle, having been burned by industrial science before (smoking, asbestos, thalidomide, lead, BPA, antibiotic resistance, etc.), and so they are naturally skeptical. The study above implies that a majority of Canadians don’t see a positive cost-benefit in eating GE foods, and many view GMO’s negatively, the numbers indicating that it’s not just the conspiracy theorist and tinfoil hat set.

        Biotech is essentially up against eaters who have been raised on non-gmo foods for millenia. Why would they change? Further, what have the biotech companies done to earn their trust? From my perspective, why would/should our co-op management invest resources in trying to change their minds? Education is a cooperative principle, and the whole cooperative economy might get behind GE if:

        GE crops would provide optimum human nutrition, and optimal feed for livestock (not just the key markers for transactions at the elevator/distribution hub).
        GE crops would keep more dollars circulating in local economies.
        GE crops would pose no risk to wild species or wild biodiversity, pollinators, or crop biodiversity.
        GE seed, pesticide, and pesticide equipment costs would be priced reasonably, providing low barrier to market entry for new farmers, and solid ROI for existing ones.
        GE crops would have no detectable pesticide residues on finished product or in the environment following it’s useful life, and not impact non-target species (including humans) during use.
        GE producers would develop some consumer assurance that non-target plant DNA remains entirely intact and unmodified in the GE process.
        GE co,’s would improve controls for cross-pollination, and Transport Canada institute tighter controls to prevent unintended seed release to ensure that GE crops stay where they are supposed to be.

        Check off this list and you keep most environmentalists, farmers, activists, legislators, and consumers happy. Labelling GMO’s on consumer packaging could actually be a marketing advantage, instead of something we need to convince someone of, or worse, hide. It can’t feel very good as a seed producer, farmer, biotech PR person, food manufacturer, or retailer in Canada to be putting something into the food system that people don’t actually want to eat. Their wants are not necessarily determined by data or facts, but by taste, relationships with growers, environmental and social benefit real or perceived, and trust in the brand or product they are choosing. For the record, I do think GE technology has an important role to play in agriculture and food, I just think we need to do a much better job of achieving the points above before we can expect consumers to embrace it.

        To the last question -“Who should educate the consumer”? Parents. Schools. Government of course can provide information, based on objective science, and funded by tax dollars, and consumers can educate themselves (better hire back those scientists Mr. Trudeau). Otherwise education becomes an extension of the product ad under the guise of science: “tobacco industry science”, “biotech industry science” or even “proprietary organic industry science” as any of these economic agendas are unlikely to bring society appreciably forward.

        • Happy Farmer

          Thanks for the reply Paul. If you read my title you will know what my occupation is. I have never wanted to hide behind a title.

          GE crops are profitable for my farm and fit well into a zero till operation. My farm has become much more sustainable and profitable since making the switch from tillage to zero till.

          You are right about farmers(me) not wanting to sell unhealthy products to market. However, I have been reading numerous articles regarding GE crops and find nothing to indicate any problems. (Please, to all those that want to post links to studies and documents, don’t bother-I’ve seen them). I think a bigger problem with food is the “over processing” which includes many preservatives that are added.

          I think all food and food products should have to follow the same standardized testing procedures. This would create the level playing field that I believe everyone would like to see. Now, how to make that happen is perhaps the billion dollar question.

          I can appreciate the Precautionary Principle, but it should apply to everything until proven otherwise.

          So, how do we as Canadians come to a solution that is REALISTIC for everyone, from the farmer to the processor to consumer? How do we do this without the all the useless discussions that happen in social media? How do we do it based on facts and not personal emotions or opinion?

          • Harold

            You do it based upon the fact that Canadians know how to read and write. As Paul kelly points out- what Canadians are reading, does not have to be explained to them. incredibly, the public is thought to be a stagnant group of illiterates. Facts are not dependent upon social media nor my say so. They are in-spite of me and obvious. The obvious vs the obscure is what Paul has reported. If you need to control, who are you taking it away from?

        • richard

          Keep up the great work!

  • Dr

    Hmmm a long list of chemicals that are allowed to be sprayed on organic crops Mr Smythe says. Sources?

    OMRI is the organization that oks anything that can be used by organic farmers and it is not a long list. GMO corn as a sticker for innoculants prevents us from using certain innoculants. Organic farmers don’t have a choice when there is GMO all around us. We fought for the right to grow canola. 19 Monsanto lawyers in a courtroom. Have you ever heard of the term “non visually distinguishable”? Choices are being taken away without people’s consensus and consumers are those people. They vote each time they buy things and it is their choice. Dousing food in chemicals is not what everyone wants. You may be fine with it but it is arrogance to think that everyone wants the same thing

  • diannep

    The ignorance about GE foods is on the side of our esteemed leaders who believe the FDA is not corrupt while it has been clearly infiltrated by Monsanto execs. Labels are changed all the time, so why is this an issue in USA and Canada while other countries either label, ban and refuse imports of GE foods preferring organic. What does that tell you? It told me n 2012 to stop eating known GE foods, keep up with and use a processor to assemble my food. I love the local dairy farmer coops like ‘rolling meadows’ and ‘beretta’ and free range eggs. These foods actually taste much better, so if taste and health are important, then learn where GMOs are, then avoid.

  • April Reeves

    CFIA recently came out with a report showing Canada with the highest percentage worldwide of glyphosate on our grains and seed crops, mostly wheat. Canadians DO understand the science, of corporations and their control over governments. I think The Producer needs to get real and call the spade a spade. The population does not want it. Its simple. Get over it and get on with changes.


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