Biotechnology is defined by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as “the application of science and engineering in the direct or indirect use of living organisms, or parts or products of living organisms, in their natural or modified forms." Biotechnology allows for the development of new food products through a variety of scientific tools and techniques.
In Canada we use the term “genetically modified” to refer to all ways of changing an organism's genetic material, whether that is through traditional breeding techniques, (i.e. cross-breeding), or more modern methods, such as genetic engineering. More modern methods of genetic modification include the ability to make specific changes to the genetic construct of a plant. This enables farmers to grow disease or pest resistant crops by activating genes to produce disease resistant qualities, or enzymes that pests don't like.
Food biotechnology has the ability to solve hunger and malnutrition issues, improve crop yields and reduce chemical usage. However, there are challenges which need to be addressed. As biotechnology develops, the government and concerned stakeholders continue to play an active role in the international forum to ensure that biotechnology regulations are appropriate for Canadians.
For more information download Fresh Facts: Biotechnology, part of CPMA’s Fresh Facts series.