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CBAN Correspondence with the Government of Canada on Golden Rice

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network requested various information from the Minister of Health and called attention to various concerns, on learning that the International Rice Research Institute had requested approval for Vitamin-A enhanced Golden Rice. We primarily requested a rationale of Health Canada conducting the review the safety of a GM food that is not intended for Canada.

Health Canada responded to our latest request as follows (April 9, 2018):

“The purpose of the food safety assessment is to ensure that products such as Golden Rice are safe for consumption if or when they become present in the Canadian food supply. Health Canada is required by law (i.e., the Food and Drug Regulations) to assess all novel food applications when a notification is filed with the Department.

The Department’s top priority when performing these mandatory assessments is the health and safety of Canadians.

The assessment of Golden Rice determined the safety of this rice variety relative to its conventional counterparts; it did not evaluate the efficacy of Golden Rice to treat vitamin A deficiency in affected populations. Intrinsic food supplementation (i.e., biofortification) is one possible approach to address specific nutritional deficiencies that exist in certain populations. This is a subject of discussion by the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) of which Health Canada is a regular participant.

Matters related to the economic, social and environmental impacts of genetically modified products in foreign countries fall outside the authority of Health Canada.” Click here to see the full letter.

Health Canada previously responded (February 1, 2018) that:

Health Canada’s science-based regulatory system for novel foods is internationally recognized and developers often choose to seek authorization in Canada as a first step in their regulatory plan even if they do not plan to sell the product in Canada.” Click here to see the full letter.


  1. CBAN letter to the Minister of Health expressing concern over the approval of Golden Rice, March 20, 2018: Click here
  2. CBAN letter to the Minister of Health requesting policy change on the review of crops not intended for use in Canada, March 2018: “We ask you to review Health Canada’s policy regarding the regulation of genetically engineered foods that are not intended for the Canadian market. We ask you to establish a policy approach for this sub-category of Novel Foods, which would include the Vitamin A-enhanced “Golden Rice.” Click here
  3. CBAN letter to the Minister of Health requesting rationale for the review of Golden Rice, January 2018: Why are Canadian regulators assessing the safety of a food product that is not intended for sale in Canada? Click here


Click here for more information on Golden Rice.