The genetically modified food genie has long been out of the bottle in Canada.
GM crops entered the Canadian food supply in 1996 and it's estimated that about 70 per cent of processed foods sold in Canada contain GM ingredients.
Consumers International (a worldwide federation of 220 consumer groups) is celebrating a recent agreement by members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (a worldwide federation of 100 food safety regulatory agencies) on GM ingredient labelling guidelines.
The consensus allows individual countries to develop new food labels identifying GM ingredients and protects them from litigation.
Consumers International's triumph was tempered somewhat by the fact that the new guidelines are voluntary.
"While the agreement falls short of the consumer movement's long-held demand for endorsement of mandatory GM food labelling, this is still a significant milestone for consumer rights," Consumers International president Samuel Ochieng said in a release.
In fact, because they're voluntary, the guidelines won't have much of an effect in Canada.
Health Canada is in charge of food labelling in this country and the federal department has no plans to force food makers to indicate the presence of GM ingredients on labels.
"Health Canada would only require labelling of GM food products if there was a clear, scientifically established, health risk or significant nutritional changes, which could be mitigated through labelling," said Health Canada spokesman Stephane Shank in a statement. "To date, Health Canada has not identified health risks associated with GM foods that have been approved for sale in Canada."
Health Canada makes a valid point. Pushing to have processors identify GM ingredients when they pose no proven health risks and are in close to 70 per cent of processed foods anyway is increasingly becoming an exercise in futility.
Many critics see a larger potential for harm in developing and growing GM crops - to the ecosystem, including the human race as a whole - compared to individuals eating foods containing GM ingredients.
Arguments against growing GM crops include: it's morally wrong to tamper with biological processes beyond traditional selective breeding, humans can't comprehend the future consequences of genetic manipulation, and there's a risk of GM crops cross-pollinating with conventional or wild plants.
Pushing for GM labelling is akin to closing the stable door after the genetically modified horse has bolted.
Those who wish to avoid foods with GM ingredients - either because of perceived individual health risks or larger-scale concerns - have options: buy foods labelled as non-GMO and/or organic products which can't contain GM ingredients as legislated in Canada, and avoid foods with ingredients likely to be genetically modified such as non-organic soy, corn and canola oil.