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Crop Biotech Update

Canada Exempts Non-novel Gene-edited Plants from Regulatory Review

March 24, 2021

Canada is changing its risk assessment policy for genetically engineered (GE) plants and food products. GE plants that contain foreign DNA will continue to be subject to regulatory oversight, while gene-edited organisms that do not have foreign DNA will be exempted from safety evaluation.

GE plants will be categorized as novel or non-novel. Novel organisms are those that exhibit traits that are not naturally occurring and contain foreign DNA. On the other hand, non-novel organisms are those that have a history of safe use, no introduced characteristics, and do not contain foreign genetic material. Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will decide if the organism/product is novel or not through a process called novelty determination.

Read more from the Genetic Literacy Project and Health Canada.

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