CropLife Canada supports the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s updated guidance for the pre-market assessment of plant breeding innovations in Canada. These policies help create a clear, predictable and science-based regulatory system that support investment and innovation in Canada. They build on Health Canada’s recently updated guidance for novel foods and will help drive greater agricultural sustainability and productivity.
CropLife Canada and its members are encouraged by the strong scientific basis of these policies that align with the findings of scientific bodies in Canada and around the world (e.g. European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, European Commission). The policies recognize the long history of safety in plant breeding and that all food in Canada, no matter how it is produced, is subject to the high safety standards set out in Canadian regulations.
Plant breeders from both the public and private sector are continually working on developing new and improved crop varieties using a range of tools from conventional breeding to gene editing. And while other countries were moving forward with science-based policies for plant breeding innovations (e.g. Australia, Japan, USA, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia), Canada was being left behind. This guidance now puts Canada in a position to be a go-to innovation hub for plant breeding innovations.
CropLife Canada and its members are fully supportive of transparency when it comes to plant breeding innovations to help build public trust and address value chain market needs. The seed sector has been fully responsible for, and successful in the delivery of varietal information to farmers throughout history, including for GMOs during the last 30 years. Information sharing for gene edited products will build on this history of success.
The industry looks forward to participating in Health Canada’s new transparency initiative that provides plant breeders the opportunity to inform Canadians about what gene-edited plant products will enter the Canadian marketplace. In addition, CropLife Canada and Seeds Canada have undertaken several initiatives to support transparency, including:
- A “Canadian Variety Transparency Database” that provides an additional resource where seed purchasers can find information about commercially available gene-edited varieties;
- A “Best practices for launching of Plant Breeding Innovations in Canada” outlining communication best practices with the value chain related when launching new products, which includes support for existing transparency initiatives;
- Continued support to the “Notice of Submission Project”, which provides a public summary of new regulatory submissions;
- A Public information hub on industry best practices for plant breeding in support of public transparency in the breeding process and as a resource for Canadian plant breeders; and
- “Nature Nurtured” a public engagement initiative for gene editing in plant breeding, supported by 30 agriculture sector organizations, describing the science, safety and benefits of gene editing for Canadians.
Source: CropLife Canada May 3, 2023 website