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Identifying and Avoiding GM Sweet Corn Seed in Canada

Consumers are increasingly asking growers and grocery stores in Canada not to sell GM (genetically modified, also called genetically engineered) sweet corn. In response to questions from vegetable growers who want to confirm the information they use to avoid planting GM sweet corn seeds, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) has compiled the following information.

There are no GM vegetables grown in Canada except for GM sweet corn, and GM sweet corn is not prominently advertised to smaller growers. Because of this, some vegetable growers are not familiar with common GM seed identifiers that grain and oilseed growers frequently see in seed catalogues.

Seed Companies

Non-GM Seed

To our knowledge, Canadian seed catalogues that service smaller seed buyers (purchasing less than 25,000 seeds) are not currently selling GM sweet corn seeds (if you find GM sweet corn in any catalogues please contact CBAN).

  • A number of seed companies in Canada and the US have signed the non-GM Safe Seed Pledge:For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.” Click here for a list of participating companies.
  • Some major seed houses such as Stokes do not sell any GM seed and prominently display a non-GMO logo.

GM Seed

  • US based vegetable seed distributors Siegers, Rupp and Seedway are selling GM sweet corn varieties.
  • In Quebec, the company La Coop Uniforce sells a few GM varieties (2013/2014).
  • There are two companies producing GM sweet corn seed – Seminis (owned by Monsanto) and Syngenta – and these are generally sold through seed catalogues and by other seed distributors.

Indicators of GM Seed

  • Key terms: GE, genetically engineered, GM, genetically modified. E.g. Seedway’s 2015 catalogue names “GE” varieties, but not all catalogues label GE/GM.
  • Colour cannot be used to help avoid GM seed because there are GM sweet corn varieties in each colour.
  • Purchasing GM varieties requires farmers to sign a stewardship agreement and/or get a license number.
  • GM sweet corn seeds advertise two GM traits: “insect protection” (above and/or below ground) and tolerance to the brand name herbicides “Roundup” and/or “Liberty”. Two companies produce GM sweet corn seed: Seminis (owned by Monsanto) sells “Performance Series” and Syngenta sells “Attribute” and “Attribute II”.

List of GM Sweet Corn Seed

This list is compiled from 2015 catalogues available to Canadian farmers (Siegers, Seedway and Rupp).

Seminis (Monsanto) “Performance Series”

The Seminis GM varieties include versions of the pre-existing non-GM hybrids Temptation, Obsession and Passion.

Variety Series Type GM Traits
Temptation II Performance se, bicolour IR + Ht
Obsession II Performance sh2, bicolour IR + Ht
Passion II Performance sh2, bicolour IR + Ht
SV9010SA Performance sh2, bicolour IR + Ht
SV9012SD Performance sh2, yellow IR + Ht
SV9014SB Performance synergistic, bicolour IR + Ht
SV9813SC Performance sh2, white IR + Ht
Syngenta “Attribute” and “Attribute II”
Variety Series Type GM Traits
BSS 0982 Attribute bicolour IR + Ht
BSS 0977 Attribute sh2, bicolour IR + Ht
WSS 0987 Attribute sh2, white IR + Ht
BC 0805 Attribute “Triplesweet”, bicolour IR + Ht
BC0822 Attribute “Triplesweet”, bicolour IR + Ht
WH0809 Attribute “Triplesweet”, bicolour IR + Ht
GH 0851 Attribute “Triplesweet”, yellow IR + Ht
GSS 0966 Attribute sh2, yellow IR + Ht
Protector Attribute II sh2, yellow IR + Ht
IR: Insect resistance; Ht: Herbicide tolerance

Growers are asked to send further information and comment to: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) 613 241 2267 ext 25.

For more information about consumer concerns over GM