For almost 10 years, FSANZ and the Food Directorate of Health Canada (Health Canada) have been working together to improve the efficiency of genetically modified (GM) food safety assessments.
This collaboration builds on a long history of information-sharing between our two agencies, and broader international collaboration on GM foods.
In 2019, FSANZ and Health Canada agreed to commence a system for GM food safety assessment sharing.
What is safety assessment sharing?
Where approval for a GM food is being sought from both agencies, an applicant may request to have their application assessed under a safety assessment sharing arrangement.
Under this arrangement, and in line with agreed protocols, the application is submitted to both agencies, but only one food safety assessment is prepared (either by FSANZ or Health Canada). The assessment is then referred to the other agency for review and input to ensure it meets the requirements of both agencies.
The joint food safety assessment is then used by both FSANZ and Health Canada for their own separate and independent assessment of the GM food.
What are the benefits?
Some of the benefits include reduced duplication, time and resource savings for both agencies, and reduced costs for applicants.
Shared safety assessments may also improve the overall alignment and efficiency of the approval process for both Canada and Australia/New Zealand.
Will the FSANZ application process change under safety assessment sharing?
No. The FSANZ application process will remain the same.
In line with this process:
- Applicants will be required to submit an application that meets the requirements set out in the Application Handbook.
- The application will be assessed according to FSANZ statutory processes.
- FSANZ will invite public comment and consider all submissions received as part of its assessment.
- FSANZ will make its own independent decisions about whether to approve a GM food, and whether any risk management measures are required.
Is Health Canada's safety assessment approach the same?
We have directly compared our assessment approaches and they are very similar.
Both our approaches are also consistent with international guidelines for GM food safety assessment.
Will I be able to comment on joint food safety assessment?
Joint food safety assessments will be included in the Call for Submissions as part of our assessment process, just like a FSANZ safety assessment.