December 3, 2014. Ottawa. As farmers and gardeners prepare to order seeds for the 2015 growing season, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and Vigilance OGM have published a guide that lists the genetically modified (GM) sweet corn varieties on the market, in an effort to encourage more farmers to choose non-GM seeds.
“Farmers and gardeners are thumbing through seed catalogues now, but GM seeds are not always clearly labelled and some vegetable growers are asking us how to identify GM seeds,” said Lucy Sharratt of CBAN.
The groups say that vegetable growers need a fair chance to prepare in advance for the market demand for non-GM sweet corn.
“Farmers will soon order sweet corn seeds for planting next year, but consumer rejection of GM is moving incredibly fast,” said Sharratt, “Consumers and farmers need clear labelling on all GM products. Any lack of clarity could impact farmers who bring GM sweet corn to a market that is increasingly rejecting it.”
The new information for growers is being published at the same time that CBAN and Vigilance OGM are releasing results from their tests of sweet corn, showing declining use of GM sweet corn.
“Our test results show there’s less GM sweet corn on the market, but we still found some GM sweet corn in Quebec,” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec group Vigilance OGM, “We know farmers and grocery stores are turning away from GM sweet corn because consumers don’t want it, but the switch is not complete yet.”
CBAN and Vigilance OGM tested 137 samples of fresh sweet corn this year from nine provinces, and only found one sample of GM sweet corn, sold in a Metro store in Quebec. The samples were chosen at random and the results are not statistically significant however the tests indicate that significantly less genetically modified (GM) sweet corn is being sold in Canada.
The test samples were purchased from outlets of major grocery chains as well as smaller, independent grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and roadside stands. Statistics Canada does not gather data on the use of GM crops.
“GM sweet corn is on its way out,” said Sharratt, “Consumer rejection is being reflected in the marketplace. Evidence from our testing, and from talking to seed dealers and grocery stores, tells us that much less GM sweet corn is being grown in Canada than last year. Consumers are really being heard on this issue.”
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, CBAN, 613 809 1103; Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM, 514 582 1674.