More on GMO and GE food and how to avoid it

Oh boy. It's a jungle in the grocery store. Far better to grow your food in your own back yard... Sorry. Better think again.

It seems the final paragraph in my past article on the definitions of GE and GMO may have left a few readers dazed and confused.

I did say I would post more information on my website but, well…life happens. So, perhaps for the best, I add more info here in this column.

I had stated, “…we should definitely be wary of the GMO (genetically modified organism) designation.”

This is because the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) has deemed this title to include those foods that have been genetically engineered, as well as those that have been bred in the traditional manner…which is really what GMO stands for.

It is therefore imperative you check the food items you buy if you want to keep GE foods off your plate.

But how can we know if a particular food is GE or not?

The CFIA certainly has not gone to bat for us in the labelling department. Companies are not legally required to declare whether their product contains a GMO ingredient or not.

Even the laws governing “organic” designation are a tad lax.

Legally, a company can put “organic” on their label as long as 95 per cent of the ingredients are non-GMO. That leaves a window for your favourite organic chocolate bar to contain some genetically modified sugar.

And highly likely, too, since 95 per cent of sugar beets, one main source of sugar, grown in the Untied States is GMO…according to 2010 statistics.

And just so you know…93 per cent of canola and over 85 per cent of the corn grown in the States are genetically modified. Canada is not without our fair share of these crops too, by the way.

So, again, how can we know what the heck we are buying?

When it comes to produce, the PLU sticker on your apples or avocados will give you a clue. If it is a four-digit number…it is a crop that has been grown using conventional agricultural methods, which may or may not have involved pesticides at some point.

If your squash boasts a sticker with a five-digit number and it starts with an 8, it is a genetically modified squash.

If your oranges also have a five-digit number but it starts with a 9, that means those oranges have been grown organically.

Most stores in our area use this PLU code system for their produce but this is not always the case. Yup…you guessed. In Canada, this system is voluntary. And, there are no federal regulations governing these stickers or even what constitutes a PLU sticker.

One piece of good news: if a sticker is used, you can rest assured the information number on it is accurate, according to Allison Jorgens, a professional home economist who worked in the food manufacturing industry as a food label specialist.

Oh boy. It’s a jungle in the grocery store. Far better to grow your food in your own back yard where you have control of what goes into your veggies and fruits.

Sorry. Better think again.

What about the seeds you have to buy?

With Monsanto owning as much as 80 per cent of the seed industry now, I have a hard time giving them my money. Especially since they keep a “war chest” with which they take small farmers to court.

It is definitely “buyer beware” out there.

And I promise, there will be more information about this subject on my website very soon!

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca and her column appears every second Friday in the Record.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Sandra Allison and Dr. Charmaine Enns joined school district senior staff for a virtual town hall meeting to address the latest COVID concerns in schools. Image, screenshot
No secondary cases in Comox Valley schools, say health officers

School district hosts virtual town hall to address recent COVID-19 cases in schools

One of the rescues at CATS - Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society’s new location on Knight Road in Comox. Photo by Erin Halushak
Feline rescue organization growing into new space

Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society opens new facility on Knight Road

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Neighbours have reached out to media on several occasions with complaints about the property

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Tentative COVID-19 vaccine site chosen in the Comox Valley

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 mass immunization plan

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

Sean LaFleur and Geoff Piper of Courtenay Nissan will be running 4 miles every 4 hours all weekend long in a fundraising campaign for YANA (You Are Not Alone).
VIDEO: Courtenay Nissan hosting YANA fundraiser

Courtenay Nissan is hosting a special YANA fundraiser all weekend long, from… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

The Courtenay Fire Department hopes to start a new recruit training program in mid-2021, pending Provincial Health Orders. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay Fire Department gets creative

Due to public health orders resulting from COVID, the Courtenay Fire Department… Continue reading

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read