202-3002 32nd Ave, Vernon BC Canada V1T 2L7 info@certifiedorganic.bc.ca
Update: Nov 15, 2022 – Joint briefing from Canadian Organic Sector on transparency and traceability of genetically engineered seed and feed in Canada

The organic sector continues to be united in our concerns about the lack of transparency and traceability of genetically engineered seed and feed in Canada. This issue undermines the credibility, transparency, and ultimate survival of organic farms, operations, and the organic system in Canada. That’s why we, along with many other provincial and federal organic organizations, are calling for a mandatory listing of all seed and feed originating from plants that have undergone gene-editing, with federal government oversight.

Read our joint letter to Minister Bibeau here, including a backgrounder and proposed solutions (PDF).
Update: Sept 21, 2022

BREAKING: Ottawa has backed down on the “voluntary transparency” of new GMOs to ensure the integrity of organic certifications. From today’s CBC article on the matter:

“The proposal for new Canadian GMO regulations has been sowing controversy since last week, when Radio-Canada revealed that the agrochemical lobby participated in its development.

The organic sector will be reassured, said the Minister responsible for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Marie-Claude Bibeau, in an interview on the program Midi Info. She announced high-level directives to guarantee the traceability of these new GMO seeds.”

Read the latest from CBC (translated from French) here.


Update: May 18, 2022

Today, Health Canada released new regulatory changes that will allow private corporations to release many new genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) foods onto the market without any government oversight.

This corporate self-regulation of genetically engineered foods and seeds jeopardizes food safety, our environment, and the integrity of organic products, which prohibit the use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

From the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network:

“Under the new regulatory guidance, Health Canada is removing its own authority to regulate new genetically modified foods that have no foreign DNA, developed with gene editing techniques, under the Novel Food Regulations. Instead, it will leave safety assessments to the product developers. Without this authority, the federal government cannot require information from companies about these unregulated foods and may not know about all the gene-edited foods coming to market. Health Canada has therefore also announced a voluntary ‘Transparency Initiative’ to encourage companies to voluntarily notify Health Canada of unregulated gene-edited foods coming to market.”

Read the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network’s full media release here.


Update: Dec. 9, 2021

On Dec. 8, new regulatory changes were expected to be published by Health Canada that will allow private corporations to release many new genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) foods onto the market without any government oversight. 

But, Heath Canada did NOT announce the deregulation as planned.

Why? There has been overwhelming support calling for transparency and government oversight of all genetically engineered foods. According to the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), your actions are working: The Minister of Health’s office has been flooded with calls and emails from concerned Canadians. That said, Health Canada could announce its final changes at any time.

CBAN is encouraging you to:

Call the Minister’s office today: Leave a message today for The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, in Ottawa at 613-992-8865. Tell him to stop Health Canada from making changes to the regulation of new gene-edited genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) foods. Health Canada wants to let many new gene-edited GMOs enter our food system without assessing their risks – Health Canada will let companies assess the safety risks of their own products, with no government oversight and no transparency. 

Tell the Minister:

  • You want our public regulators at Health Canada to do their job and make sure all gene-edited foods are safe. You don’t trust corporate GM food safety assessments.
  • You want the government to provide transparency for Canadians, not let unregulated gene-edited GM foods onto the market without any notification to the government and public.

For more updates, visit cban.ca/take-action/no-exemptions.


From the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network:

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has launched a public consultation on a proposal to exempt many new genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) plants from government regulation.

The proposal would allow private companies to sell some GMOs (genetically modified organisms) without government environmental risk assessments. Instead, many new genetically engineered plants would be assessed for environmental safety by the product developers themselves, with no government oversight. Specifically, the CFIA proposes to exempt genetically engineered seeds that have no foreign DNA, many of which would be produced with the new genetic engineering techniques of genome editing (also called gene editing).

The result would be unregulated genetically engineered seeds sold and grown in Canada. Farmers, consumers, and the CFIA itself, may not even know that some of these new genetically engineered seeds exist because there would be no requirement for companies to report the new unregulated GMOs to the government.

Further reading

CBAN: Overview page

CBAN’s factsheet: Introduction to Genome Editing

CBAN: Comments on the CFIA’s proposal

National Farmers Union Op Ed: CFIA gene editing regulatory proposal not science-based or transparent

National Farmers Union: Commentary on CFIA proposal for regulating gene-edited plants