Insect Resistant and Herbicide Tolerant Maize – MON 87411

In 2013, Health Canada received a submission to allow the sale of a variety of corn, called MON 87411, that is insect resistant and herbicide tolerant. In order to determine whether this corn variety could be sold in Canada as food, the scientists at Health Canada conducted a scientific assessment that ensured that MON 87411 is safe for consumption, still had all its nutritional value and therefore does not differ from other corn varieties available on the market. Our scientists also needed to assess how MON 87411 was developed and whether it can be toxic or cause allergic reactions.

MON 87411 was modified to be resistant to insect larva, known as corn rootworms which damage the plant and reduce farmers yield. To provide protection from this pest, two genes were introduced into MON 87411. Each of these genes produce substances which act in the larva as an insecticide. MON 87411 was also modified by the introduction of a third gene which allows the plant to grow in the presence of the herbicide glyphosate. In every other way, MON 87411 is identical to any other corn variety.

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 in this corn variety did not pose a greater risk to human health than corn varieties currently available on the Canadian market. In addition, Health Canada also concluded that MON 87411 would have no impact on allergies, and that there are no differences in the nutritional value of MON 87411 compared to other traditional corn varieties available for consumption.

Health Canada's assessment of MON 87411 was conducted according to the Guidelines for 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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