Gene drives are allowed, but only because of a lack of legislation.
There are no Canadian regulations regarding gene drives, an ecological technology to insert and spread a useful genetic modification through a species at higher than normal rates of inheritance, and usually used to eradicate a pest population. Environment Canada regulates animals developed with biotechnology and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999 requires environmental and human risk assessments during the development of these animals, but no specific legislation for gene drives currently exists.
Two other organizations will likely be involved once gene drive regulations are developed: Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is legally mandated to govern genetic technology in animals for research and release; Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada would have jurisdiction of any organisms with gene drives if they were to be used for pest control.
1999: Canada releases the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to regulate animals developed with biotechnology.
Gene drives face opposition because of their ability to spread across borders and fears of unforeseen consequences to the environment. The Canadian-based ETC Group, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and more than 200 global anti-GMO activists and NGOs published an open letter in 2016 opposing gene drives and called for a global moratorium. During the 2016 World Conservation Congress, a select group of NGOs, environmental activists and some scientists voted to adopt a moratorium on supporting research into gene drives. The moratorium call was rejected at the 2016 United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). Counter NGO groups, including Target Malaria, Island Conservation and Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents Program, have adopted the opposite position, stating that “gene drive is vital to the future of restoration and critical in preventing extinctions”.