January 16th, 2021

Food industry trying for better communication job with gene editing

By Letter to the Editor on February 19, 2020.

Letter: Re: “Gene-edit foods our next risk communication fiasco?”, the Lethbridge Herald, Feb. 10.

Sylvain Charlebois is right: our industry did a poor job of communicating to the public about GMOs. As a result, misinformation about the safety and benefits of the technology continue to persist almost 25 years later despite the fact GMOs have helped make farmers more environmentally friendly than ever before while at the same time enjoying a remarkable safety record.

Our industry is committed to doing better this time around, by being more transparent and by talking directly to consumers who we know have a keen interest in how their food is produced. Let’s start with explaining exactly what gene editing is. Where GMO crops have for the most part incorporated DNA from one organism into another to make a positive change, gene editing allows scientists to work within a plant’s own genetic code. Gene editing focuses on making improvements that could occur in nature but makes them in a more precise and efficient way, allowing scientists to adapt to the changing needs of farmers, consumers and the environment.

As Charlebois acknowledges, gene editing will provide us with improved plants offering important benefits. While GMOs have largely delivered crops with benefits directed at farmers, gene editing has the potential to lead to a wider variety of crops with benefits that directly touch consumers, including foods with enhanced nutritional profiles. From non-browning mushrooms to high-fibre, low-gluten wheat, the potential improvements are exciting.

While Health Canada is currently determining exactly how to manage gene editing, what’s important to note is that all food in Canada, no matter how it is produced, must comply with rigorous regulations for health and safety. Health Canada has done an excellent job safeguarding the health and safety of Canadians while enabling new innovations to come to market and we are confident that it will be no different with gene editing.

Pierre Petelle

President, CropLife Canada


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Southern Albertan

Perhaps GMO seeds, for farmers, is not all cake and pie. There’s this:
“GMOs —Top 5 concerns for family farmers”
They are: “Concentration & Corporate Power, Contamination and Economic Loss, Superweeds and Superpests, Biodiversity, Patents”
More can be read at: http://www.farmaid.org/issues/gmos/gmos-top-5-concerns-for-family-farmers/
Farm Aid Reccomendations at the bottom of this article include: “Fair and affordable access to seeds and the right for farmers to save seeds…..”
Perhaps, expensive GMO seed along with the specific required chemicals and the inability to save seed, could be said to be part and parcel of farm business models which could result in the failure of family farms in another generation, or two. We are retired grain farmers, but we were being increasingly impacted by higher and higher input costs, including GMO seed.
Other concerns could be: “India’s farmer suicides: are deaths linked to GM cotton? – in pictures,” can be found at theguardian.com
and, also at theguardian:
“Monsanto sued small farmers to protect seed patents, report says”
We did know that when we grew some GMO canola a few years ago, that the ‘seed police” did come around to check our field. We did get a good crop (on irrigation) but the seed was expensive and so was the specific chemical that we had to use for weeds. The negative ethical aspect of this, was troubling for us.

Southern Albertan

There is also, this with regard to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, which can be used for a number of GMO crops to control weeds….soybeans, corn, sugar beets, cotton and canola, known as “Roundup Ready” varieties.
“A Hidden Epidemic”
It seems that the jury is still out on whether glyphosate exposure can cause cancer. I shudder to think of how many farmers have been exposed over the years to glyphosate let alone the rest of us being exposed from drift with aerial spraying, or any kind of spraying for that matter. A recent study seems to indicate that there is a link from exposure to glyphosate increasing the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41%.


Operating in secrecy has been the crux of the problem. Little wonder GMO’s are called ‘frankenfoods’ (https://www.yourdictionary.com/frankenfood) and Monsanto has become so despised and mistrusted; so much so that they have changed their name (again how can you trust them?). Practices include introducing not just plant genes into plants but animal genes- a dangerous set up with no where the study needed to know the long term impacts. Everything is rushed and shoved down our throats. We have to address the human population explosion so we don’t have so many mouths to feed and slow down the whole food movement to rein in back in to what it once was – natural.


I agree with the comments mentioned. The biggest thrust of the GMO’s is total economic control of the agricultural industry with the social aspect of “We have to produce more food for the population”. Thus enters the “beyond meat” phase of complete control, and elimination of the animal husbandry phase of agriculture.


wow – gosh – thank you so much for improving upon what had worked so well for creatures for a just a bunch of thousands of years. finally, gods that really know how make food. in the beginning there was food…and then came the gmo gods.
as hard as it is to pay extra for organic, it is one way to limit the rapid increase in control of food into the hands of a relative few maniacs. the cost of food is rising substantially – thanks gmo; thanks feedlots, and i am sure there are a lot of disenfranchised poor folk the world over also thankful for industrial agriculture having stolen their land.