Memorandum by the Canadian High Commission
To date Canada has approved 40 crops derived
from biotechnology. These crops include canola, tomatoes, potato,
corn, soybean, flax and cottonseed oil.
This information is summarised on both the Canadian
Food inspection Agency's Internet site at http://www.cfia-acia.agr.ca/english/food/
biotech/bsco.html and on the Canadian Department of Health's (Health
Canada's) Internet site at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dalahpb datafood/english
Three major consultations on the labelling of
foods from biotechnology have taken place since 1993. These consultations
have included the participation of consumers and consumer groups,
environmental groups, companies and industry associations, grocery
manufacturers and distributors, farmers, health professionals,
Principles have emerged from these consultations
based on stakeholder input. These general principles are listed
1. Mandatory labelling of novel foods derived
through genetic engineering to identify the presence of:
(a) Potential health or safety risks for
individuals or population segments.
(b) Significant composition or nutrition
modifications from the non-genetically engineered food source,
for example specific fatty acid profile changes in canola oil.
2. Unless potential health or safety, or significant
nutrition or composition changes have occurred, food labels are
not required to identify foods derived from genetic engineering.
3.(a) The labelling of novel food ingredients
derived through genetic engineering should be understandable,
truthful and not misleading.
(b) Voluntary positive or negative labelling
that is intended to indicate that a novel food has, or has not,
been produced by genetic engineering is acceptable, on the condition
of the above principle, that the claim is factual and not misleading
4. Labelling for religious reasons was viewed
as outside the mandate of the government and is being adequately
addressed within the framework of religious groups.
5. Canada will consider both domestic and international
needs in food labelling matters.
1. The results of the consultations are consistent
with existing Canadian food laws and with Canadian general food
labelling policy for non-genetically engineered foods.
2. These results are being used to determine
whether novel foods derived from biotechnology require labelling
when they enter the Canadian marketplace. Foods that have undergone
a significant change in nutrition or composition will be labelled
for that specific modification.
3. As a member of Codex Alimentarius, Canada
is committed to working with the Codex Committee on Food Labelling
to arrive at a common international position on this matter.
1. In Canada, there are consistent regulations
for the environmental assessment of agricultural products that
are legislated by the following Acts and guidelines: Seeds
Act, Feeds Act, Fertilizers Act and Health of Animals Act,
Plant Protection Act. These regulations, together with specific
guidelines, detail information requirements and assessment procedures
and comprise the Canadian legislative framework for agricultural
products of biotechnology.
2. Evaluations are conducted on the basis of
the unique characteristics of each product rather than the method
of production. All plants with novel traits are assessed for possible
impacts on the environment based on the specific modification
and the biology of the plant.
20 July 1998