The National Farmers Union has accused federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos of “abandoning his responsibility” over safe food.
It’s criticism arises out of Health Canada’s hands-off approach to plant breeding that involves manipulating genes, such as turning some on or off.
This differs from Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs) which result from transferring genes from one species to another, such as from bacteria to corn to produce Roundup-Ready and corn rootworm resistant varieties.
The government’s stance has wide support from farm organizations.
Yet the NFU said that “without proper regulation, there is no assurance for Canadians or our export customers, that our products are safe.
“Health Canada has a duty is to protect and inform Canadians. The Food and Drug Act Regulations are clear in stating that foods that have been genetically modified ‘to change the heritable traits of a plant, animal or microorganism by means of intentional manipulation,’ and which have no history of safe use as food in Canada, are subject to regulation as ‘novel foods.’
“Powerful corporations have urged Health Canada’s bureaucrats to reinterpret the Food and Drugs Act Regulations so as to instead deem many gene-edited foods ‘non-novel.’ By adopting this baffling interpretation, Health Canada has handed its work as a regulator over to the very companies it is supposed to regulate,” the NFU said.
Under the standards the NFU wants, canola would never have made it to market since at least two genes are missing from the parent rapeseed.