Canadian agriculture is all about feeding people, contributing to Canada’s economic prosperity, and caring for the environment. The plant science industry plays an important role in this by giving farmers the tools they need to do these things.

People may not think of them as technologies in the same way as online shopping or the latest app, but the pesticides that protect crops and the plant biotechnology that creates hardier and healthier crops represent leading-edge science that improves our lives.

Here are just a few examples. The average Canadian family saves about $4,400 on groceries every year because pesticides and biotech crops help farmers produce a reliable and affordable food supply.

Pesticides and biotech crops also help farmers be as productive as possible on existing farmland. Without these tools, farmers would need 50 percent more land than they use today to grow the same amount of food. Canada-wide, that’s more than the total area covered by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island combined.

Plant science innovations also help ensure the economic viability of the agriculture industry. The industry contributes about $9.8 billion to the GDP each year. A big part of this comes from Canada’s strong agricultural exports.

None of this would matter if the technologies weren’t safe. Fortunately, Canada’s world-class regulatory systems for both pesticides and products of plant biotechnology help ensure that Canadians have one of the safest food supplies in the world.

Health Canada is responsible for ensuring that all pesticides, whether used for conventional or organic production, are safe for both people and the environment. This includes taking into account pesticide residues on food. While most fruits and vegetables in Canada do not have any detectable levels of pesticide residues, it’s important for people to know that simply being able to detect the presence of residues on food does not necessarily mean there’s a safety concern.

The Alliance for Food and Farming in the U.S. developed a pesticide residue calculator to help put this issue into perspective. They’ve calculated how many servings of certain types of vegetables a person would have to eat in one day for there to be any concern about pesticide residues. For example, an adult woman would have to eat 850 apples in one day before pesticide residues would pose any safety risk.

When it comes to biotech crops, commonly referred to as GMOs, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ensure they’re safe for people and the environment. Health Canada clearly says that biotech crops are just as safe as their conventional counterparts.

People around the world have consumed trillions of meals containing ingredients from biotech crops over the last two decades, and there has never once been a credible case of illness associated with them. The global scientific community overwhelmingly agrees about the safety of these crops.

And both biotech crops and pesticides will continue to be a critical part of producing a safe, affordable, and sustainable food supply going forward, as the global population continues to grow and changing climate conditions pose new challenges for farmers.