Last year Canadian farmers planted close to 21 million acres of canola, more than 97 per cent of which was enhanced through biotechnology, according to a report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).
"It's not surprising that Canadian farmers continue to embrace genetically modified crops. Farmers see the benefits in terms of improved yields and quality, environmental sustainability and efficiency," says Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife Canada.
The majority of canola, corn and soybeans planted in Canada are biotech varieties. Canada now ranks fourth on the list of countries that plant biotech crops in terms of acres planted, up from fifth the previous year. Last year Canadian farmers planted close to 29 million acres of biotech crops, which puts Canada behind only the United States, Brazil and Argentina.
"Canadian farmers are some of the most innovative and forward-looking in the world. They use tools like plant biotechnology to help them produce one of the safest, most abundant food supplies in the world," says Hepworth.
In 2012 millions of farmers in 28 countries around the world planted biotech crops. The global area of biotech crops has increased one hundred fold since they were first commercialized in 1996 making it the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history.
As the adoption of biotech crops continues in Canada and around the world at varying rates, managing the flow of trade where crops may have unintended low levels of genetically modified material approved in the country of export but not the country of import becomes increasingly important, especially in Canada where trade is such an important part of the agricultural system.
"The plant science industry has been actively working with stakeholders and the Government of Canada to develop a practical solution to the issue of low level presence (LLP). It's encouraging to see Canada playing a leadership role in this area and continuing to demonstrate its commitment to science-based regulations," says Hepworth.
Adopting a proactive regulatory approach to managing LLP in Canada could set the stage for the adoption of similar policies by trading partners around the world. Such policies are critical to avoiding unnecessary costs incurred through shipment stoppages and recalls, and helping to improve consumer confidence in our food supply and regulatory system.