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How GM crops are making agriculture more sustainable

Overview

Published: 06/02/2016

by Arielle Duke

Health Canada's testing ensures that new GM crops and pesticides won't have any negative impacts on human or animal health and the environment.

The concept of sustainable farming is often associated with small farms using organic or traditional farming practices.

It's genetically modified crops, though, that are playing a key role in boosting the sustainability of Canadian farms.

Many GM crops are herbicide resistant, for example, which means farmers have more herbicide options available to them to control weeds – instead of just tilling or working the soil. Two leading benefits of reduced or no-till farming are healthier soil, and less soil erosion and surface water runoff, which means cleaner streams, lakes and rivers.

According to farmer Brian Scott, a farmer and independent expert, growing GM corn has allowed him to control insects more efficiently. They now rely on pest-resistant corn to keep their crop healthy instead of applying insecticides at planting.

By planting corn that resists insect damage, Scott says he reduces the number of insecticide applications he has to make during the growing season, which means he uses less fuel to run equipment and helps limit any exposure of non-target insects to pesticides.

In Canada, all crop protection products and GM crops are regulated and approved by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It can take up to 10 years or more of research, development and testing to bring new products to market.

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