Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau admits it was “inappropriate” for civil servants and the leader of the agrochemical lobby to work in the same Word document on a reform aimed at overseeing a new generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Amidst this controversy, he promises organic farmers the traceability of gene-edited seeds.
Posted at 5:52 PM.
On Monday, Radio-Canada revealed that the leader of the agrichemical lobby was named as the “author” in the metadata of the embargoed files the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) shared with various government officials and stakeholders. The world of agriculture.
The discussion paper presents new “key guidance” for interpreting Canada’s seed regulations. It proposes to exempt “gene-edited” plants from the government’s obligation to evaluate them before introducing them into the Canadian environment, as has been required for new GMO plants since the 1990s.
“One thing I am sure of is that the original document really comes from the CFIA, but still I find it confusing to work on the same document. It seems to me that it would be much more appropriate for the interested parties to submit their recommendations in entirely separate briefs. I had this discussion with the agency executive on Tuesday morning,” he explained in an interview the press.
It claimed the document was a “draft” used in consultations with industry players. “We cannot say that this is the agency’s orientation, this is an option that is on the table,” specified the minister.
In its current form, the reform project, as presented in the document, “fails to achieve a very important goal for the government, which is to protect the organic sector. So this option cannot be selected. […] That’s why they should [l’ACIA] Keep doing your homework,” he added.
Bibeau tries to reassure organic farmers
No genetically modified crops have yet been grown in Canada’s agricultural system. This new technology makes it possible to change the existing DNA sequence of plants without inserting foreign genes, as is the case with so-called traditional GMOs.
However, this reform has been outright rejected by Quebec’s agricultural community, which fears it will compromise the organic certification process.
In addition to not using synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, organic farming must ensure that it does not use GMOs. Without a mandatory declaration mechanism before marketing future seeds, the organic sector in Quebec feared it would no longer be able to meet this obligation.
“The integrity of the organic certificates must be guaranteed at the end of the work, and this is a very clear directive that I have given to the agency,” clarified Minister Bibo.
Specifically, how can the Canadian government assure organic producers that they are not planting GMO seeds without knowing it? The method of achieving this remains to be seen, he says.
“Automatically, it should exist in one way or another to ensure traceability and transparency,” promises M.I Bibo.