Canada - Agricultural biotechnology, annual report
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
July 15, 2012
USDA/FAS GAIN report CA 12029
Based on an updated methodology, Canadian planting of biotech crops is now estimated at about 10.5 million hectares for 2012. The main biotech crops remain canola, corn and soybeans, with small amounts of sugar beets added recently. Canada is one of a few countries to approve stacked traits, or planting up to three traits in one crop. On the animal side, guidance from three regulatory agencies is still to be issued on the question of whether the progeny of clones fall under Canada's novel food regulations.
In 2010, Canada was ranked fifth in the world for hectares of land planted with biotech crops, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. Countries ranking before are the United States, Brazil, Argentina and India. Actual Canadian data on biotech production are limited, although estimates of area planted are available from Statistics Canada for corn and soybeans, and the Canola Council of Canada for canola.
Post changed its methodology to increase the biotech canola estimate from 80 percent to 95 percent of total canola. Additionally, Post included the province of Manitoba in the total estimate for biotech corn and soybeans. Post estimates the total areas planted in Canada in 2012 with biotech varieties at about 10.5 million hectares. The 2011 estimate, although not directly comparable to the 2012 estimate due to the change in methodology, placed the total biotech acreage in Canada at almost 8 million hectares. Major Canadian biotech crops remain canola, corn and soybeans. Sugar beets are the fourth biotech crop planted in recent years, though on relatively small areas.
Canada's strong research system and proximity to the United States facilitate collaboration and advances in biotechnology. Canada is one of a handful of countries, along with the United States, Australia, Mexico and South Africa which includes up to three traits in one crop, so that farmers have the option of planting corn seed that is herbicide-tolerant and resistant to two pests: corn borer and corn rootworm.
In August 2011, Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean trait was the first widespread plant biotechnology trait to go off patent. The first year Canadian farmers may plant Roundup Ready soybeans saved from their own seed production is 2013. This creates the potential for confusion in the export regulatory process. In some countries the approval processes for biotech crops can often take three or four years and may also have a time limit once approval is granted. All these varying timetables could cause complications for Canadian soybean exports.
On the animal side, guidance from the three regulatory agencies in Canada (Health Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) is still to be issued on the question of whether the offspring or progeny of clones fall under Canada's Novel Foods provisions of the Food and Drug Regulations. At this point, there is no indication that such decision would be made in the near future.
Funding for EnviroPig, the transgenic pig with reduced phosphorus waste production, was cut and all pigs euthanized in May-June of 2012. EnviroPig DNA is now being kept under cold, long-term storage, and further analytical tests or the resumption of regulatory approval may continue in the future, should an interested party be willing to do so.
More news from: USDA - FAS (Foreign Agricultural Service)
Published: August 20, 2012