The International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR)

Non technical Abstract  

Assuring quality in the commodity grain and oilseed trade:Standards and procedures in the Canadian grains regulatory system1 

Ira Altman and Peter W.B. Phillips
University of Saskatchewan,


The advent of GM varieties in the commodity grains and oilseeds industry has renewed discussion about the quality assurance systems for internationally traded commodities. Consumers domestically and internationally have put pressure on industry and regulators to specify more finely the attributes of the products for which they are responsible. This need for clearly articulated and verifiable systems is rising as countries adopt labeling systems for GM or GM free food (e.g. EU, Canada, Japan, US) and will become essential when the BioSafety Protocol becomes operational.

Quality assurance is fundamentally a product of the efforts of both regulators and industry participants. This paper investigates three aspects of the system. First, the paper examines the current Canadian production and marketing system to illustrate the challenges. Second, the paper reviews the regulatory base and industrial role for quality assurance in Canadian grains and oilseeds. Third, the paper develops a conceptual framework, building on Picciotto (1995), to identify the theoretical base for the roles for public, private and not-for-profit institutions in assuring quality, using examples from Canada.



Keywords: quality assurance, GM foods, and institutions

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