Lucy Sharratt is the Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), which brings together 16 groups to research, monitor and raise awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN is a project on the shared platform of MakeWay Charitable Society and a member of the national and international Campaign to Stop GE Trees.

For Immediate Release – Press Release
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and Vigilance OGM

Health Canada proposes to remove regulation for some GMOs

Groups call for mandatory safety assessments for all genetically engineered foods

March 26, 2021, Montreal and Halifax – Yesterday, Health Canada released proposals that would remove some genetically engineered (commonly called genetically modified) foods from regulation. The proposals are part of draft updates to departmental guidance on risk assessment for genetically modified organisms (GMOs)*, now out for 60-day public comment.

“This is an abdication of the Health Canada’s responsibility to ensure food safety,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “We can’t let private companies decide which foods are safe.”

The proposed changes, in particular, target the regulation of foods from plants created by the new genetic engineering techniques called genome editing or gene editing. The proposals would exempt some foods of certain genome editing techniques from regulation. Product developers would decide for themselves if certain products can enter the market without government risk assessment.

“Government risk assessments should be mandatory for all genetically engineered foods. It’s a question of trust in our food system.” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec network Vigilance OGM (GMO Watch).

Furthermore, Health Canada says it will encourage product developers to voluntarily notify the government about any unregulated GM foods they intend to put on the market. “Consumers, farmers, and the government may not even know that some of these new, unregulated GMOs exist,” said Sharratt.

“The Canadian government is proposing to move from a system of GMO regulation that is already missing critical transparency and is mostly based on industry science, to a system that, for some GMOs, is completely opaque and directly controlled by industry,” said Rehn.

Health Canada is inviting public comment on the proposals before May 25.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it will also be consulting soon on new regulatory guidance for GM plants.

For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 902 209 4906, coordinator@cban.ca ; Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM, 514 582 1674, contact@vigilanceogm.org

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