Corporate public relations confusion on GM regulation

CSNN National Page > Corporate public relations confusion on GM regulation

There is unprecedented corporate consolidation in the global seed and pesticides markets, dominated by the four companies that also control most of the world’s genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) seeds: Bayer, Sygenta, Corteva & BASF.

These four companies dominate the markets but they also lead the political pressure campaign in Canada to remove government regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They also coordinate the public relations campaigns to encourage public acceptance of GMOs. All four companies are members of the biotechnology and pesticide industry lobby group CropLife Canada (and CropLife International). In fact, the President of Syngenta, Trevor Heck, is the new Chair of the Board of CropLife Canada. These same companies are also members of The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity which is “helping Canada’s food system earn trust.”

The biotechnology industry is close to achieving a major goal, thanks to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and the Minister of Health: to end government regulation of GMOs. At the same time, CropLife Canada is still reassuring Canadians that government regulation helps to secure the safety of all new biotechnology products:

On March 20, CropLife Canada tweeted: “Did you know that Canada has one of the most stringent regulatory systems in the world for pesticides and biotech crops? Health Canada & the Canadian Food Inspection Agency evaluate all new products to ensure they don’t pose a risk to human health or the environment!” Except CropLife Canada is lobbying to put an end to independent government safety evaluations for many gene-edited products.

In fact, the Minister of Health has already decided that foods from some gene-edited GM plants are exempt from Health Canada’s safety checks (those from plants with no foreign DNA). And the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food may soon make a similar decision on gene-edited seeds.

The biotechnology industry – and the federal government – has long highlighted the role of independent government regulation to inspire public trust in the safety of GM foods. Even as it succeeds in removing this regulation, CropLife is eking out the last of this public relations opportunity.

If we are to correct CropLife Canada’s statement it might read: “Did you know that Canada is about to hand over much of its regulation for biotech crops to biotech companies? Health Canada does not evaluate all new products to ensure they don’t pose a risk to human health or the environment.”

You can still stop this corporate self-regulation.

Your action is critical this week – call or email the minister:

For more information see: