Identifying and Avoiding GM Sweet Corn Seed in Canada
Updated December 2020
In response to questions from vegetable growers who want to confirm the information they use to avoid planting genetically engineered (genetically modified or 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.
Recent years of tests conducted by CBAN and Vigilance OGM have shown little or no GM sweet corn present in Canada.
However, approximately 80% of grain corn is GM. For information on the use of GM corn for grain in Canada and further information about the proliferation of GM sweet corn, see our report “Where in the World are GM Crops and Foods?”
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.
- There are two companies producing GM sweet corn seed – Seminis (owned by Bayer, formerly Monsanto) and Syngenta. These are generally sold through seed catalogues and by other seed distributors.
- US based vegetable seed distributors Siegers, Rupp and Seedway are selling GM sweet corn varieties.
Indicators of GM Seed
- Many seed companies do not label GM/GE seed products. Key Terms: GE, genetically engineered, GM, genetically modified, genetically enhanced. For example, Rupp’s uses the term “genetically enhanced”.
- 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” (insect resistance) (above and/or below ground) and tolerance to the brand name herbicides “Roundup” and/or “Liberty”. Two companies produce GM sweet corn seed: Seminis (formerly owned by Monsanto) sells “Performance Series” and Syngenta sells “Attribute” and “Attribute II”.
- Colour choice cannot be used to help avoid GM seed because there are GM sweet corn varieties in each colour
List of GM Sweet Corn Seed (2020/2021)
All the GM sweet corn seeds on the market are both insect resistant and herbicide tolerant:
From Seminis (owned by Bayer, formerly Monsanto):
- The “Performance Series” of GM sweet corn which is all glyphosate-tolerant. The Seminis GM varieties include versions of the pre-existing non-GM hybrids Temptation, Obsession and Passion
- The “Attribute” series of GM sweet corn. Attribute is all tolerant to the Liberty herbicide (glufosinate) and the Attribute II varieties are all tolerant to glyphosate and glufosinate.
Growers are asked to send further information or questions to: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about GM corn: www.cban.ca/corn