TAKE ACTION NOW: Help protect seed integrity in Canada

September 10, 2021

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s consultation regarding changes to Part V of Canada’s Seed Regulations will close on September 16, 2021.

Help protect seed integrity in Canada - photo of a young corn plant growing in a field of corn plants.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is currently holding a consultation regarding changes to the guidelines for Part V of Canada’s Seed Regulations. Part V of the regulations details the conditions that plants with novel traits (PNTs) must meet in order to be released onto the market and into the environment. Currently, all genetically engineered (GE) plants are regulated as PNTs and must be approved by the CFIA for release into the environment.

SeedChange is concerned that CFIA’s proposed changes will scale back regulatory oversight in order to make it easier for private plant developers to release new varieties that have been genetically engineered. The proposed changes would permit certain genetically engineered varieties (including gene-edited crops) to be released onto the market without going through the same level of safety assessments as other genetically engineered crops.

These changes are worrying for several reasons:

  • New genetically engineered varieties could be released onto the market without disclosing the use of those technologies. This could risk the integrity of the organic seed and food market, which could be contaminated with unlabelled genetically engineered crops.
  • They assume that we can reliably predict how gene-edited crops will interact with the environment, when in reality, the technology is untested in agriculture and the unintended consequences are unknown.
  • They make private plant developers solely responsible for assessing risk for plants with novel traits, creating an inherent conflict of interest.
  • Due to the intellectual property restrictions associated with genetically engineered varieties, the proliferation of these varieties risks further eroding seed biodiversity in Canada, limiting the capacity of farmers and plant breeders to support the transition to climate-resilient agriculture.

The farmers, seed producers, plant breeders, and organizations we work with urge the CFIA to reconsider its proposed changes.

How can I protect seed integrity in Canada?

Join us in calling on the CFIA to reconsider these changes to the Seed Regulations.

If you value the integrity of seed for organic and climate-resilient farming in Canada, you need to speak up now. You have until September 16th, 2021 to share your opinions through the CFIA’s questionnaire.

For support in filling out the questionnaire, check out the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network’s excellent guide.

What else can I do to oppose these changes to Canada’s Seed Regulations?

  • Visit the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network’s No Exemptions page for guidance on how to participate in this consultation and for more information on gene-editing.
  • Write to your MP signalling your concern about these proposals in advance of the fall election.
  • Visit the National Farmers Union’s Save our Seed Campaign for more petitions, letter templates, and more information about upcoming regulatory changes.