Gene editing techniques
On this page
- Gene editing techniques
- Regulatory oversight of plant products developed using biotechnology
- Determining if a plant product is novel
- Information on authorized novel products of biotechnology
Gene editing techniques
Gene editing is a general term for the technologies used to create specific and targeted genetic changes in:
Gene editing is also often called:
- genome editing
- plant breeding innovations
- precision breeding techniques
- new plant breeding techniques
- precision breeding innovations
- innovative breeding techniques
These techniques are being developed and improved rapidly.
Regulatory oversight of plant products developed using biotechnology
The Government of Canada regulates plants, animal feed and human food — each under different legislation. Therefore, the regulatory requirements for each are different.
When a product is novel (different from what is already available in Canada), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada do pre-market assessments.
- The CFIA assesses the safety of the plant for release into the environment and to be grown as a crop in Canada
- The CFIA assesses the safety and efficacy of the product for use as a livestock feed
- Health Canada assesses the safety of the product for use as human food
The CFIA and/or Health Canada must assess any novel plant, feed or food before it can be used in Canada.
Some products developed using gene editing techniques may not meet the regulatory definition of "novel". If a product is not novel, it is considered equivalent to its existing counterparts, and no pre-market assessment is required.
Regulatory oversight is based on the characteristics of the product, regardless of how it was developed.
All seeds, feed and food, whether conventional or products of biotechnology, are regulated in Canada. They must comply with all relevant standards and regulations for safety and quality, even when pre-market assessments are not needed.
Determining if a plant product is novel
Guidance is available to help product developers determine if their plant, produced using biotechnology, is novel and therefore needs a pre-market assessment.
Developers using biotechnology are strongly encouraged to request an opinion from the CFIA or to contact Health Canada to confirm whether their product is novel.
Information on authorized novel products of biotechnology
When a submission is made, developers may voluntarily agree to the publication of a notice of submission before a pre-market assessment is concluded. This notice provides summary information about novel plant products they have submitted to the CFIA for assessment for:
- unconfined environmental release
- use as livestock feed
Following a pre-market assessment, the CFIA updates a database of authorized plant products of biotechnology and related decision documents.
Decision documents outline the information that was assessed, including information on how the plant was developed. The CFIA posts this information for all plant products that have received a pre-market assessment.
When Health Canada authorizes a novel food product it updates its list of completed safety assessments of novel foods and publishes a summary of each assessment.
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