gene-edited seeds
A worker attends to seedlings at a biotechnology company. (REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

In May, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency dropped safety audit requirements for gene-edited plants, a step announced in the government’s updated seed regulations

The food inspection agency determined gene-editing is safe and achieves the same outcomes as conventional plant breeding techniques. As a result, gene-edited seeds can be put on the market without government checks or mandatory labelling requirements.

But organic farmers worry the lax requirements will affect their own crop production. Some say the new regulations were developed with undue industry influence, and that insufficient research has been conducted to understand the effect of gene-edited seeds on the environment or food.

Seeds are edited to enhance their features

Gene-edited seeds are developed by altering a plant’s genes to enhance its features, such as making a seed more heat resistant, improving its taste or decreasing its carbon footprint. 

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Hadassah Alencar is a bilingual journalist based near Montreal. She recently completed the journalism program at Concordia University, where she worked as a teaching assistant and became editor-in-chief...