Herbicide Tolerant Inzen™ Sorghum

In 2016, Health Canada received a submission to allow the sale of a genetically modified (GM) sorghum variety referred to as Inzen™ sorghum. This sorghum variety has been genetically modified to tolerate specific herbicides used to control grass weeds growing around this cereal crop. In order to determine whether herbicide tolerant Inzen sorghum could be sold in Canada as food, the scientists at Health Canada conducted a scientific assessment that ensured this sorghum variety is safe for consumption, still has all its nutritional value and therefore does not differ from other sorghum varieties available on the market. Our scientists also needed to assess how Inzen sorghum was developed and whether it can be toxic or cause allergic reactions.

Scientists with expertise in molecular biology, microbiology, toxicology, chemistry, and nutrition conducted a thorough analysis of the data and the protocols provided by the applicant to ensure the validity of the results.

Following this assessment, it was determined that the changes made to this GM sorghum variety do not pose a greater risk to human health than sorghum varieties currently available on the Canadian market. In addition, Health Canada also concluded that this GM sorghum variety would have no impact on allergies, and that there are no differences in the nutritional value of this GM sorghum variety compared to other traditional sorghum varieties available for consumption.

Health Canada's assessment of herbicide tolerant Inzen sorghum was conducted according to the Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods. The approach taken by Health Canada in the safety assessment of GM foods is based upon scientific principles developed through expert international consultation over the last 20 years with agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The approach taken by Canada is currently applied by regulatory agencies around the world in countries such as the European Union, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, and the United States.

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