A Vision of Canada’s Next-Gen Seed System

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The Seed Synergy White Paper lays out three main policy positions designed to move Canadian seed into the future.

The Seed Synergy White Paper lays out a set of proposals for the future of the seed sector and agriculture in Canada, based on a trio of key areas: Stimulating Innovation, Modernizing the Seed Regulatory Framework and Building the Next-Generation Seed Organization.

The White Paper is a follow-up to the Green Paper released in 2017 and further refines the ideas that will be taken forth by the Seed Synergy partners as the industry prepares for seed regulatory modernization in 2020, the year the federal government plans to open up the seeds regulations.

What follows is a brief look at the White Paper (visit seedsynergy.net for a downloadable copy) and the three policy goals it lays out for the road ahead and some commentary on the concepts therein.

GOAL: Stimulate Innovation

How we can achieve this:

  • Update Canada’s delivery of the novel products regulations for plant breeding innovations.
  • Align with like-minded trading partners to avoid unnecessarily regulating products that were, or could have been, achieved through conventional breeding.
  • Provide for a tiered approach (with service standards) so that “novel” but familiar products can move through the approval process more quickly, with appropriate data requirements in comparison to products that are more complex or less familiar.
  • Develop and implement a system that results in additional investment in varietal research and development in cereals, pulses and other crop kinds in Canada by facilitating the development and implementation of a seed variety use agreement (trailing royalty) system for UPOV 91-protected varieties.

GOAL: Modernize the Seed Regulatory Framework

How we can achieve this:

  • Amend the seeds regulations to streamline requirements and enable the modernization of the delivery of the seed certification program by identifying elements of the seeds regulations such as seed quality and labelling standards and registration of seed establishments that can be removed from the text of the regulations and incorporated by reference.
  • Delegate the authority for the delivery of the seed certification program to a single, national seed industry organization while government continues to provide regulatory oversight, enforcement and science support, with an expanded role for accredited seed laboratories and where the government continues to be Canada’s national designated authority for seed varietal certification and to represent Canada at the OECD Seed Schemes.
  • Create a single window for all seed regulatory services, facilitated by the use of secure, controlled access, efficient, cost-effective information technology solutions, in order to simplify access to services for users of the system.

GOAL: Build the Next-Generation Seed Organization

How we can do this:

  • Create a more efficient and effective seed industry organizational model to deliver seed certification services under a “modernized seed regulatory framework” by creating and implementing a single, consolidated national seed organization.
  • Lobby government to identify the new consolidated national seed organization as the authorized and responsible body for seed certification regulatory documents that are incorporated by reference.
  • Leverage the use of secure, controlled access, efficient and cost-effective information technology solutions, to implement a Single Window concept in order to streamline and simplify access to services by users of the system, access to application information by service providers and provide transparency to stakeholders.
  • If the past three years of the Seed Synergy Collaboration project were Part 1 of an adventure in forging a new future for our industry, you might say the sequel has just begun.

At the joint annual meeting of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association and Canadian Seed Trade Association held in Whistler, B.C., last July, the Seed Synergy Partners came together to announce the official beginning of Seed Synergy’s next stage and four core projects — a big one being building a single national seed organization.

Coming on board for the next stage of the project is the Ontario-based StrategyCorp, which will conduct additional member, stakeholder and government engagement.

What follows is a brief recap of the project’s first phase and a snapshot of its crucial next phase with some insights from members of the Seed Synergy Oversight Committee, which is overseeing the design of a new national seed organization for all of Canada.

How Did We Get Here?

    • Desire to make members’ businesses more successful.
    • Trusted and respected seed regulatory systems in need of change.
    • The need to sustainably feed a growing population while continuing to deliver a safe, secure, diverse and sustainable supply of food, fuel, fibre and turf.
    • A desire to make Canada’s agriculture sector, and specifically seed, more competitive in the global ag economy.

Unveiling the National Seed Organization

The structure of a proposed National Seed Organization (NSO) was recently unveiled. Designed by the Seed Synergy partners along with Strategy Corp, it identifies several potential areas of focus for the NSO and anticipated the benefits of collectively working together through a single organization — several of which could directly impact farmers, specifically the implementation of a Seed Variety Use Agreement which would apply to select seed varieties.

  1. Update delivery of novel product regulations for plant breeding innovation
  2. Implement a Seed Variety Use Agreement (SVUA) system for IP-protected seeds
  3. Streamline Seed Regulations requirements and modernize the regulatory framework
  4. Define a new industry delivery model for the seed certification program
  5. Create a “single window” for all seed regulatory and member services
  6. Create a more efficient and effective industry organizational model

Under the SVUA proposal, producers will pay the plant breeder a Seed Variety Use Fee (SVUF) every year on any grain they divert for seed use of that variety. Producers will have a choice on seed varieties they use.

This proposed new system will only apply to varieties protected by Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR ’91). For more info visit seedvaluecreation.ca.