Greenhouse Canada

Canada moves forward without mandatory disclosure of gene edited seeds

May 6, 2023  By Greenhouse Canada

May 6, 2023 – The Honourable Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced a decision to allow new genetically engineered (GE) seeds to be released in Canada without health or safety assessments and only voluntary disclosure. According to the Canada Organic Trade Association, this puts the organic sector, which prohibits all forms of genetic engineering, at significant risk.

The Canadian organic sector released a statement, stating “[we are] very disappointed in this decision to move ahead with updating the guidance related to the Seeds Regulations, without requiring the reporting of all gene edited seeds. Mandatory disclosure is considered a minimum to provide the transparency and traceability needed for organic businesses and consumers. This has been consistently communicated by the organic sector to government.”

The Canadian organic sector is a $9.35 billion industry that is globally recognized and has equivalency arrangements with 33 countries to facilitate trade. The processes that have been in place with Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) before the new guidance was proposed help ensure that the organic supply chain is free from genetic engineering will no longer be employed for new genomic techniques, deemed to be non-novel by the Federal Government.


Industry-Government Technical Committee
The Canada Organic Trade Association, along with other organic partners, participated in a Technical Committee organized by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, to outline the organic perspective on suitable solutions to protect the organic sector.

The association noted “the process was not as promising as the organic sector hoped. From the onset, the aggressive timeline was not conducive to finding a suitable solution to protect organic certifications. The Technical Committee quickly limited the scope of the work to focus primarily on a voluntary database managed by the seed industry, which the organic participants highlighted as problematic from the beginning.”

“Further improvements to the recommendations, including regulatory options, must be further explored and implemented to ensure that transparency is maintained for gene edited food, seeds, and feed throughout the various stages of the supply chain from breeding to processing,” states a press release from the association.

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