Ontario Agri-Food Technologies – FAQs

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Can genetically modified foods be placed on the market without proper testing?

It should be realized that it is no simple procedure to have a product accepted for the marketplace. Initially, all new transgenic plants have to be confined in either a greenhouse or a growth chamber. One has to receive permission from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to have even a limited field trial, and all aspects of the safety of the new varieties have to be assessed.

Even when a new variety has been assessed in limited field trials it takes six to seven years of further trials before the variety can be sold. During this time the company must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the regulatory bodies, that both the variety is safe in the field and will not cause environmental problems, and that the product is nutritionally safe for use. It has been estimated that the cost of moving a new product through the regulatory procedure can be as high as $10 million. This is a long term process to ensure consumer safety.

It has been suggested in various press reports that a large multinational might try to bypass some of the regulatory procedures or not perform them adequately. However, it would be considered a bad business strategy knowingly to poison or in any way damage ones customers. A company such as Monsanto has invested $12 billion in developing ag-biotech. It would be foolish to jeopardize this investment by inadequate regulatory trials that resulted in health problems for the consumer.

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