GFM Network News


This illustration shows how CRISPR-Cas9 technology could be used to genomically edit a species of the streptococcus bacterium. The Cas9 nuclease protein (in blue) uses a guide RNA sequence (purple) to cut DNA (green) at a complementary site.

Where are the Canadian genome-editing startups?

Looser regulations give the U.S. an edge in GE product development, but Canadians are working on gene editing, too

Genome editing has made some major strides in the past year. Minnesota-based Calyxt struck a deal with a processor to make oil from its GE soybeans, in which the genes responsible for trans fats have been ‘turned off.’ And SU Canola (a sulfonyurea herbicide-resistant variety) was given its Canadian commercial release a year ago by […] Read more

Genome editing will not only revolutionize plant breeding, it will offer advances with wide public benefits such as making crops more resilient in the face of climate change, says Stacy Singer, a forage breeder and biotechnologist at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre. Singer is shown here with sainfoin plants, a bloat-free type of alfalfa. Her colleague, Surya Acharya, bred a more hardy variety of the forage using conventional methods but the breeding process took many years.

The next frontier of plant breeding

Advocates say game-changing genome editing is completely different from genetic engineering — but will the public agree?

Farmers need to get in front of the messaging about genome editing technology — or risk seeing it suffer the same fate as GMOs in the court of public opinion. That’s the warning from the chair of Alberta Wheat’s research committee, who is one of many who fears genome editing is going to get lumped […] Read more


The rules are still being written for genome editing

Researchers are excited about genomic editing’s potential to develop new crop varieties without the controversial genetically modified label. However, the regulation of genome edited crop varieties is still up for debate. In March, the U.S. agriculture secretary said his officials won’t regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques. “With this […] Read more

Farming is not a one-size-fits-all business

There is room for organic, conventional, and GM technology because each of them offers different benefits

I continue to witness arguments over different methods of farming. But considering the variety of farms around the world, and that most of them are very small compared to the Canadian average, combative conversation is really rather unwarranted and, in many cases, an uneducated dialogue. When one disparages farms that are organic or ones that […] Read more


Coexistence plan for GM alfalfa won’t eliminate risk

Expert says stopping the spread of the glyphosate-tolerant trait is virtually impossible, but levels can be kept ‘very, very low’

The recently released “coexistence plan” for genetically modified alfalfa in Western Canada doesn’t offer any guarantees that conventional and organic crops won’t be contaminated, says an expert on gene transfer. “It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve,” said Rene Van Acker, a professor of plant science at the University of Guelph. “If it’s […] Read more

Consumers aren’t that interested in the facts about GMOs, says geneticist 
Sean Myles.

These aren’t your grandmother’s GMOs

FarmTech: Scientists used to use a scattergun approach to genetically modify plants, but modern methods are extremely precise, says professor

Of all the tools that plant breeders have at their disposal, a compelling story is perhaps the most important — and the most challenging to find. “That’s one of the things in the modern breeders’ tool kit that needs improvement — our message out to the public and how it’s going to come across,” said […] Read more