Bill S-6 to Expand Authority for Determining Seed Crop Varietal Purity

by | Jun 17, 2022 | Business, Industry News, Legislation

The following piece is from our sister publication, Germination.

CFIA says proposed changes do not preclude talks falling under Seed Regulatory Modernization.

Modernization might be coming to the Seeds Act from an unexpected source. On March 31, 2022, the Senate tabled Bill S-6, which proposes to modify 29 acts through 46 amendments and applying to 12 departments and agencies, including the Seeds Act.

The bill is meant to simplify federal regulations by making many “common sense” legislative tweaks at once, according to government.

One of the proposed amendments to the Seeds Act gives the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) the authority to determine the varietal purity of all seed crops and not just those with grades requiring varietal purity.

As part of the formal Senate review process, several stakeholders were invited as witnesses before the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry to share their thoughts.

CSGA views this amendment as housekeeping in nature as it reflects the current operational nature of Canada’s seed crop certification system. The additional clarity around CSGA’s authority is important as it ensures that new niche and specialty crop clients have a pathway to seed certification in Canada and enables international trade,” said CSGA Executive Director Doug Miller during the Senate committee hearing on the bill.

The bill notes this amendment would address legal risk by making it clear in the legislation that the CSGA is allowed to make these determinations of varietal purity for all seed crops.

“Having those crops lie outside the grade tables doesn’t make sense in today’s current context of encouraging niche market opportunities,” said Wendy Jahn, national manager for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Seed Section, on a recent Germination webinar.

“These crop kinds, although totalling less than 0.3 per cent of certified acres in the last five years, are important and provide opportunities for the future, ranging from alternative biofuels superfoods to cover crops needed to fight climate change,” Miller added.

Barry Senft, executive director for Seeds Canada, also addressed the Senate committee hearing and said Seeds Canada’s position is for the Seeds Act amendments to be removed from the bill, going on to say the Seed Regulatory Modernization initiative is the proper forum to make such tweaks.

Jahn added on the Germination webinar that the proposed legislatives changes in no way preclude ongoing discussions under the broader Seed Regulatory Modernization Initiative.

Bill S-6 continues to be considered in the committee before it can continue to the report stage and third reading by the Senate.

Further Amendments

Bill S-6 also proposes three additional tweaks to the legislation governing seed in Canada:

  • Provide clear authority in the Seeds Act for Part V of the Seeds Regulations respecting the release of seed. This amendment would clarify existing authorities in the Seeds Act regarding the release of seed and improve alignment with the regulations.
  • Provide authority for the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting the determination of a foreign state’s system related to seed safety. This amendment would enable the Governor in Council to make regulations that recognize systems and safety assessments conducted in other countries if they are deemed to be equivalent to Canada’s.
  • Allow the CFIA to deliver certain notices (such as those associated with unlawful imports) to stakeholders using the most effective methods possible, rather than having to rely on registered mail. Enabling the digitalization of communications in this way would decrease costs and speed up service delivery.

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