Canada Organic Trade Association urges CFIA to reverse gene editing regulations
October 2, 2023 By Greenhouse Canada
Oct. 2, 2023 – The Canada Organic Trade Association calls on Health Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to reverse their decision on voluntary disclosure of gene-edited seeds and food, considering a story from Radio-Canada on the years of closed-door discussions between CropLife and government to advance CropLife’s proposal. “The decision on regulation and policy around gene editing must be made by an independent party,” they say.
Organic standards prohibit the use of GE seed, feed and food. The organic sector has consistently opposed allowing new genetically engineered (GE) seeds to be released in Canada with only voluntary disclosure and without health or safety assessments. The decision by Health Canada to allow just that for GE food in 2022, and later by AAFC on GE seeds in 2023, puts the organic sector at significant risk of contamination from undisclosed gene-edited seeds and food and disregards consumers right to know what is in their food.
The organic sector prohibits all forms of genetic engineering, including GMOs and gene editing, due to concerns around biodiversity, food sovereignty and preservation of genetic resources. Globally, the Codex Alimentarius for Organically Produced Food prohibits the use of genetic engineering and serves as a global guide for all nations to reference in the development of their nation’s standards.
The organic sector continues to ask for a mandatory government registry of all gene-edited products in order to co-exist with non-organic growing systems. In light of the failed process in which the decision to move ahead was based on the influence of seed developers, we call upon the federal government departments to repeal their decision and maintain the mandatory procedures that exist for other GE products in Canada. This request to uphold transparency and traceability should not be overlooked once again as the organic sector seeks a way to co-exist with non-organic farming systems in Canada.
The organic sector maintains that it is critical to safeguard the transparency of gene edited food, seeds, and feed throughout the various stages of the supply chain from breeding to processing.
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