In 2017, Health Canada received a submission to allow the sale of sugarcane event CTC175-A which has been genetically modified to be insect-resistant. In order to determine whether the raw and refined sugar derived from sugarcane CTC175-A could be sold in Canada as food, the scientists at Health Canada conducted a scientific assessment that ensured the sugar is safe for consumption, still has all its nutritional value and therefore does not differ from other sugar available on the market. Our scientists also needed to assess how the sugarcane was developed and whether it can be toxic or cause allergic reactions.
Health Canada has approved raw and refined sugar produced from sugarcane CTC175-A for sale in Canada. Sugarcane CTC175-A expresses the insecticidal protein Cry1Ab which is active against sugarcane borer infestations. Sugarcane CTC175-A also expresses the NptII protein which is used as a selectable marker by making the plant resistant to kanamycin.
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 sugarcane did not pose a greater risk to human health than raw and refined sugar currently available on the Canadian market. In addition, Health Canada also concluded that sugarcane CTC175-A would have no impact on allergies, and that there are no differences in the nutritional value of raw and refined sugar from sugarcane CTC175-A compared to other sugar available for consumption.
Health Canada's assessment of sugarcane CTC175-A 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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