Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle
In Canada, it has been estimated that genetically modified (GM) foods and food ingredients are detectable in 11 per cent of foods consumed and might be present (but often not detectable) in up to 75 per cent of the processed foods sold in stores. Examples range from GM papaya and GM sweet corn that are directly consumed, to sucrose and fructose from GM corn that are used as ingredients in products like chewing gum. Although regulators around the world have ruled that there is no scientific evidence to support claims that these foods involve any new or magnified risks, many civil society groups and a large portion of consumers are simply not convinced. In absence of any definitive long-term studies showing these foods are safe, and in response to heightened apprehension about food safety issues, civil society groups and consumers seek mandatory labelling for GM foods. The reasons offered in defence of mandatory labels include: consumers' right to know what is in their food; giving consumers the ability, at point of sale, to choose or avoid GM foods; and enhancing long-term monitoring and surveillance of GM foods. Food concerns in industrial countries have evolved from food security concerns in the middle of the past century to provenance concerns at the present. Corresponding to this is the lengthening of supply chains, which in many markets has removed the direct relationship between the producer of food products and consumers.
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