While offering guidance on how to control new crop varieties produced by gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR, Canada is falling behind other jurisdictions, says CropLife Canada.
Japan's consumer affairs agency recently decided that it would not require special labeling for products created by the new breeding technique because it does not require foreign DNA to be introduced.
Japan is joining a growing list of countries like the U.S., Australia, Argentina, and Chile that do not plan to give any additional scrutiny to new gene-editing traits.
Ian Affleck, CropLife Canada's vice president of plant biotechnology, said crop developers and farmers are waiting for the Canadian government to provide guidance on how it will regulate what quickly becomes the backbone of plant breeding.
“There is a distinct need for that clarity in Canada right now so Canadian farmers don’t get disadvantaged,” he said.
Affleck said the government has suggested that to encourage innovation in the industry, Canada's Plant with Novel Traits (PNT) regulations need to be updated.
"This is a priority for Canada's government and work is currently underway to reform the regulatory system," he said.
Lucy Sharratt, director of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, said that the new PNT regulations should be enough because the trigger is innovation, not the system.
"Because of gene editing, if they open up PNT legislation, there are a lot of questions we would have about how to strengthen the regulatory system," she said.
CropLife Canada likes the strategy of Canada to regulate the commodity rather than the system, but it brings to regulatory decisions a layer of complexity.
Affleck said there appears to be a growing global consensus that gene-editing engineering, with the notable exception of the EU, will not be subject to the same regulatory scrutiny as GM crops.
Tags : new crop varieties , CRISPR crop rules , Biotech industry, Canada’s unreliable, halter farming innovation, ,