About the Council for Biotechnology Information
Since the Council for Biotechnology Information was founded in 2000, the mandate has stayed true to presenting science-based information to the public. Issues have come and gone over the years, but the Canadian arm of this NAFTA-aligned, non-profit association has always relied on those with direct experience to comment; experts like researchers and academics, dietitians and farmers, to name a few.
The plant biotechnology companies which support this website believe that scientific literacy is helpful in understanding the biotechnology story. That literacy is enhanced when complex science is broken down into chapters and told by front-line people. We have told stories from coast to coast, reflecting the diversity of adoption as well as breadth of scientific discovery in our universities. This website is an archive of a uniquely Canadian perspective on the regulatory environment, research progress, farmer adoption and food chain response.
From time to time, we have provided updates on global developments, specifically in Asia, Africa and Europe as the news warrants. Every year, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) brings the biotechnology revolution into focus with its global report on adoption trends, country by country and crop by crop.
In 2008, Canada remains in the top four countries, after the United States, Argentina and Brazil, for its acreage planted to biotech-improved seed. More than 82 percent of the canola, 65 percent of corn and 65 percent of soybeans are derived from biotech seed. Recent Canadian research trials are starting to show that conventional soybean seed is falling behind in yields, as much as five bushels per acre, proving that herbicide-tolerant seed wins the battle against yield-robbing weeds. As the demand for agricultural products increases for food and feed, fibre and fuel, these production capacities will become ever more crucial.
Canada, with its storied agricultural past as a breadbasket to the world, is in an enviable position to take advantage of the 21st century bioeconomy. Society is in transition from a petrochemical-based industrial complex to a renewable plant-based industrial complex. While this conversion may take decades, researchers and farmers are already leading the way using plant biotechnology as their tool.
For example, plant developers have commercialized corn hybrids that are more economical in converting starch to sugar in the manufacture of ethanol. Canadian farmers are now able to contract their corn with this built-in technology knowing the end-use destination is an ethanol plant in their region.
Adequate moisture is one of the greatest challenges for farmers in Canada and around the world. The goal, therefore, will be to grow crops that can “weather” the weather. By 2010 or 2011, crops will be grown that use water more efficiently and conserve energy for flowering and setting seed. This will be another milestone in conserving precious water while maximizing yield, a practice when combined with conservation-tillage will prevent soil erosion.
Perhaps one of the biggest paradigm shifts in recent years is linking Ontario’s automobile industry with agriculture as a source of readily available, functional materials for car interiors. Under the umbrella of the Ontario BioCar Initiative, researchers are testing hemp, corn and soybeans for their unique properties of strength, durability and economy. Biofoam is one example of a soy-based polyol already commercialized for car seats.
Biofoam from soybeans, BioGo food packaging from corn, biodiesel from canola – these are all Canadian-made, earth-friendly solutions from agriculture. They certainly speak to the grade four definition of biotechnology: using living things to make products! Continue to seek out this Canadian website for updates on the ever-evolving era of plant biotechnology and its benefits to consumers.
Council for Biotechnology Information Secretariat