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Country information about GM food safety assessment
Introduction national biosafety regulations:
Federal responsibility for the regulations dealing with foods sold in Canada, including novel foods, is shared by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Health Canada is responsible for establishing standards and policies governing the safety and nutritional quality of foods and developing labelling policies related to health and nutrition. The CFIA develops standards related to the packaging, labelling and advertising of foods, and handles all inspection and enforcement duties. The CFIA also has responsibility for the regulation of seeds, veterinary biologics, fertilizers and livestock feeds. More specifically, CFIA is responsible for the regulations and guidelines dealing with cultivating plants with novel traits and dealing with livestock feeds and for conducting the respective safety assessments, whereas Health Canada is responsible for the regulations and guidelines pertaining to novel foods and for conducting safety assessments of novel foods.
The mechanism by which Health Canada controls the sale of novel foods in Canada is the mandatory pre-market notification requirement as set out in Division 28 of Part B of the Food and Drug Regulations (see Figure 1). Manufacturers or importers are required under these regulations to submit information to Health Canada regarding the product in question so that a determination can be made with respect to the product's safety prior to sale.
The safety criteria for the assessment of novel foods outlined in the current document were derived from internationally established scientific principles and guidelines developed through the work of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission. These guidelines provide for both the rigour and the flexibility required to determine the need for notification and to conduct the safety assessment of the broad range of food products being developed. This flexibility is needed to allow novel foods and food products to be assessed on a case-by-case basis and to take into consideration future scientific advances.
Relevant links to documents and information prepared by the competent authority responsible for the safety assessment
Food: Consistent with the definition of "novel food" in Division 28 of the Food and Drug Regulations, the progeny derived from the conventional breeding of approved genetically modified plants (one or both parents are genetically modified) would not be classified as a novel food unless some form of novelty was introduced into such progeny as a result of the cross, hence triggering the requirement for pre-market notification under Division 28. For example, notification may be required for modifications observed in the progeny that result in a change of existing characteristics of the plant that places those characteristics outside of the accepted range, or, that introduce new characteristics not previously observed in that plant (e.g. a major change has occurred in the expression levels of traits when stacked). In addition, the use of a wild species (interspecific cross) not having a history of safe use in the food supply in the development of a new plant line may also require notification to Health Canada. However, molecular stacks are considered new events and are considered to be notifiable as per Division 28.
Contact details of the competent authority(s) responsible for the safety assessment and the product applicant: