Grain Farmers Enter Novel Food Discussion, Support Gene-Edited Crops

by | Jun 10, 2021 | Business, Industry News

Photo: Pixabay

The following piece is from our sister publication, Germination.

The Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) are rallying Canada’s grain industry to champion the role of modern plant technology in driving safe and sustainable growth for the seed sector. This comes in light of two federal consultations on plant breeding that will have a significant impact on crop varieties available to Canadian farmers in decades to come.

This spring, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) launched a 120-day public consultation on guidance for determining whether a plant is subject to the Seeds Regulations part V, while Health Canada launched a consultation in March on new regulatory guidance for novel food focused on plant breeding. The outcomes of these consultations will have a significant impact on the future of plant breeding in Canada, says GGC Executive Director Erin Gowriluk. It will be key to emphasize the importance of modern technology in this area in the months to come.

“Advancements in plant breeding and access to new crop varieties have really been the backbone of our industry,” she says. “These new varieties are the reason that today’s farmers can grow more, with fewer resources, while also sustaining our land and soils in Canada.”

Modern plant technology such as gene edited crops will be even more critical in the decades to come, says GGC Chair Andre Harpe from his farm in the Peace region of northern Alberta. This is especially the case as farmers are required to grow more food to feed a rapidly expanding global population, while also meeting climate change goals and contributing to Canada’s economy.

“Gene edited crops can help farmers adapt to changing climate conditions and pest pressures while continuing to grow safe, high quality, affordable food for Canadians and consumers around the world,” he added. “Furthermore, it’s clear the agriculture industry will be a driving force in our country’s economic recovery post Covid.”

GGC has long been a champion of partnering with the federal government to achieve economic growth and sustainability, Gowriluk added. The consultation document released by the CFIA sends a strong signal about the safety and importance of plant breeding innovations but there are some areas that need additional clarification to ensure that Canadian farmers will be on a level playing field with their global competitors when it comes to access to new crop varieties.

GGC will continue to advocate for clear and predictable regulatory pathways for plant breeding innovations while also recognizing the global scientific consensus on the safety of gene editing.

“We will continue to champion the safety and sustainability of modern plant technology on behalf of our members, especially in the months to come, and we encourage the Canadian grain industry to take part in consultations and do the same.”

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