OTTAWA – Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau on Monday reiterated her confidence in the independence of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which is under fire after receiving a document on the next generation of genetically modified organisms. The genetically modified organisms (GMOs) listed the leader of the agrochemical lobby as an author in the metadata.
“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is an independent agency whose leadership is based on science. In carrying out his mandate, he consults with stakeholders from all walks of life – as well as with other independent sources – to make informed decisions,” he wrote in a statement provided to The Canadian Press by his office.
However, Ms. Bibo believes that the CFIA still needs improvements in document processing.
“I questioned the sharing of the document and asked senior management to follow up and make the necessary corrections,” he says.
Who is the author?
In an explanatory letter following a request for comment on the article published by Radio-Canada on Monday, the agency claims it is the sole author of the document.
The organization said that as part of the consultation, an updated draft of part of the seed regulations had been sent to industry associations representing seed developers to provide “feedback”.
It is noted that in “one returned copy” CFIA continued to work. This copy contains metadata related to Jennifer Hubert, Plant Biology Sector General Manager at CropLife Canada Lobby.
The document was “reviewed” by the CFIA and “subsequently circulated to a broader group of stakeholders,” including non-profit and organic associations, for feedback.
The “proposed main directions” have been developed by the agency, the spokesperson claims. It adds that “outside parties, including industry associations, are not authors of CFIA documents.”
In a statement, activist group Vigilance GMO said it is “outrageous” that the federal government has “allowed lobbies to create their own regulations” using documents created by representatives of the pesticide and GMO industry “as a proposal to regulate” new GMO seeds. .
Asked to respond to the CFIA’s clarifications, the organization’s co-ordinator, Thibault Renn, responded that he “doesn’t buy the interpretations” he received from a document “written by industry” and then “can be changed” by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. .
In any case, Rennie says the current situation “proves how the CFIA is “so used to working hand-in-hand rather than exchanging documents and taking documents written by the industry that don’t seem to be a problem.”
His group also notes that the CFIA appears to be consulting industry first with other partners, while parties with a financial interest in regulatory changes should reach out to farmers, civil society and independent scientists.