Genetically modified (GM) crops in Canada - statistics & facts

Since the development of the first modified DNA molecule in 1972, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have become widely used in many fields of scientific research and agriculture. Created with the aim of enhancing or introducing new traits to an organism, GMOs possess novel gene combinations which have been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GM crops for example, are often engineered to include traits of pest or disease resistance, herbicide resistance or reduced spoilage.

In Canada, GM crops are largely produced in Ontario and Quebec. Currently, there are four genetically modified crops available on the market, including canola, soybeans, grain corn and sugar beets, with several other varieties approved by the government. In 2019, over eight million hectares of GM canola was seeded in Canada, accounting for a 95 percent share of all canola seeded that year. Since the introduction of GM crops to Canada 20 years ago, it has become one of the leading countries to produce genetically modified crops worldwide, ranking in fourth place behind the United States, Brazil, and Argentina.

Despite the intended benefits of genetically modified crops, their use in agriculture has not been without controversy. Some major concerns for consumers in Canada include whether GM foods should be labelled and whether they pose any risks to human health or the environment. A recent survey found that over 70 percent of Canadian respondents strongly agreed that GM food products should be clearly labeled. Saskatchewan was the province where the most people believed GM foods to be generally safe to eat. Quebec residents were the most sceptic, with 38 percent of survey respondents stating that they thought GM foods were generally unsafe to consume.

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Genetically modified (GM) crops in Canada

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