Bt corn hybrids provide producers with an effective management tool against insect pests such as European corn borer and corn rootworm

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Proper implementation of the recommended insect resistance management plan is critical to the sustainability of the Bt corn technology.

There is a risk that the viability of the technology will diminish as the proportion of planted Bt transgenic crops increases in Canada. To prevent or delay the onset of resistance in the European corn borer (ECB) and corn rootworm (CRW) populations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requires each registrant of Bt corn to implement an insect resistant management (IRM) strategy with producers.

If you are planning to plant ECB Bt corn, CRW Bt corn or ECB/CRW Bt corn stack, you will need to implement the appropriate IRM plan. Common key elements between the different IRM plans include:

  • Ensure that the appropriate amount of refuge seed is planted for the type of Bt corn seed used
  • Do not mix Bt and non-Bt seed
  • Keep accurate records of corn field planting

For more information, please visit Canadian Corn Pest Coalition or contact your local seed dealer.

As part of a program to verify the proper implementation of IRM strategies by the Bt corn industry, IRM monitoring will be conducted by CFIA inspectors across Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba in 2008. The main purpose is to verify that appropriate measures are in place to minimize the risk of insects developing resistance to Bt corn. Monitoring consists of an interview, a review of the planting records and a field visit. During the field visit, leaf tissue samples will be taken and sent to the CFIA Laboratory in Ottawa for testing.

IRM monitoring is conducted by the CFIA to assess a company's IRM system, including grower education on the elements of successful IRM. As a result:

  • This is a voluntary inspection, which must have the approval of the grower in order to proceed.
  • This inspection is anonymous as the grower's personal information will be kept confidential by the CFIA.
  • There will be no regulatory consequences to the grower resulting from participation in this monitoring program

Q's and A's on IRM inspections

How do you select growers to be interviewed?

The CFIA selects a sample of growers which is reflective of the Bt corn growers in Canada. Grower lists are provided by the seed companies in confidence to CFIA to assist with these selections. Grower selection is determined on a regional basis.

What happens if I refuse to get inspected?

The IRM inspection is voluntary. Growers will be called by a CFIA inspector to request an IRM inspection. If you refuse the inspection, there will be no consequences. However, we encourage you to participate as the success of this project will depend on your cooperation. This project is there to ensure the long term sustainability of the Bt corn technology.

Why will you review my planting records?

Your planting records will help the inspector locate the refuge and take samples during the field inspection.

Why will you take samples of my crop?

Leaf samples of Bt corn and non-Bt corn will be taken to verify the genetic make-up of the crops. Three plants of the Bt crop and three plants in the refuge area will be picked at random. Only one leaf will be taken from each plant.

Where do these samples go?

The leaf samples will be tested by the CFIA Laboratory in Ottawa using flow strip tests. Flow strip tests require a very small amount of leaf tissue. However, the remainder of the leaf may be needed to confirm the genetic make-up of the samples using more advanced testing protocols.

Will I get the results from the analysis of the samples?

Unless required, you will not get the results from the lab analysis.

Will the results of the inspection be given away to my seed dealer or my neighbours?

No. The results of the inspection, as well as your personal information, will be kept completely confidential by the CFIA.

What will the CFIA do with the results of the IRM inspection?

The results of all the inspections across Canada will be pooled and analyzed. The CFIA will get an overall picture of the IRM compliance rates. The CFIA will then inform the seed companies of any recommended changes to their IRM programs. The purpose of IRM inspections is to improve IRM compliance to ensure the long term sustainability of the Bt corn technology.

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