Canada to unveil new GM tolerance policy

CALGARY — Canada is putting the finishing touches on its low level presence policy, which will then be showcased around the world.

Gord Kurbis, director of market access and trade policy with Pulse Canada, hopes other countries will follow Canada’s lead so the grain industry can avoid incidents such as one that occurred in Turkey earlier this year.

Turkish regulators rejected a shipment of Canadian bulk red lentils because they contained trace amounts of a GM crop. Months later, they allowed the shipment in after the lentils had been re-cleaned.

Turkey and many other countries around the world have zero tolerance policies for GM crop contamination, which means that with today’s testing technology, an entire shipment can be rejected for containing GM soybean, corn or canola dust.

Kurbis said Canada knew it couldn’t ask its trading partners to move off their zero tolerance stances if it was unwilling to do so first, which is why it has been working on a policy since 2011.

“That policy will be very effective in moving us away from a zero tolerance,” he told delegates attending the Pulse & Special Crops Convention.

The new policy establishes a .2 percent tolerance for GM traits that have received food, feed and environmental release approval in one country but have yet to be approved in Canada.

“That approval has to be done to Codex standards,” he said.

The technology company has to provide sample material and its testing methodology to Canada.

A more lenient tolerance level will be applied to traits where a full regulatory package has been submitted to Canadian authorities.

Kurbis expects that tolerance level will be three to five percent.

To receive the more tolerant threshold, Canadian authorities must have completed an abbreviated risk assessment on the trait.

Jim Everson, executive director of Soy Canada, said the key outstanding issue is determining an exact number for the second threshold, which should happen soon.

“They’re trying to resolve it so that they can be able to talk about it very shortly. I suspect some time before the end of the summer,” he said.

About the author


Stories from our other publications