Seeds Canada Initiating ‘Stakeholder Summit’ to Craft Vision for Regulatory Modernization

by | Nov 25, 2021 | Industry News, News

The following piece is from our sister publication, Germination.

Seeds Canada says it has identified a need for additional input concerning stakeholder requirements for a future seed system and looks forward to initiating a Summit that would bring together all value chain participants impacted by the Seeds Regulations, according to a news release issued today.

There is broad agreement that a review of the regulatory framework is required as the last major review of the regulatory framework was completed in 1996, the release states.

“The review, led by CFIA, is much appreciated and very much needed,” noted Ellen Sparry, Seeds Canada president.

“We do, however, believe that an overall vision for the sector’s future and the producers’ needs and realities must be more clearly understood to ensure we are putting the right tools in place. What would best enable our customers and in turn, our businesses? What system would best deliver seed innovation and support advancement today and beyond? A full regulatory review is unlikely to occur again for quite some time, so we need to get this right.”

The intention behind the Summit would be to assess the current regulatory environment and ask stakeholders what they need from a modernized seed system in Canada. These insights will inform what Seeds Canada calls a “Seed Regulatory Modernization Vision” and the regulatory review process.

Discussions will be framed around themes addressing key components of an innovative, competitive, and end-user friendly Canadian seed system. Seeds Canada will keep stakeholders apprised of Summit plans as they develop, the release states.

If you have any questions or would like to confirm your participation in this conversation, please contact Seeds Canada’s Executive Director, Barry Senft, at [email protected].

Need for Big-Picture Thinking

Seeds Canada’s members-only semi-annual meeting was held in November and included a member discussion on SRM and also a roundtable with Dr. Siddika Mithani, president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Prior to the meeting, Senft spoke with Germination and said Seeds Canada is concerned that the industry has not yet had the kind of “big picture” discussions needed to make significant regulatory change.

“We’re concerned about the process leading up to it, that we haven’t had those big picture issues discussing the vision for what the future the seed industry should look like,” Senft said.

“We need the big picture laid out, then have the task teams work toward that vision. Seeds Canada is participating in this process with the understanding that the needed changes are going to absolutely occur. This was meant to be a substantial review of the seeds regulations, and that’s what we want to see come out of it.”

As part of the SRM initiatives, a number of task teams have been formed to identify areas for potential change.

Senft said Seeds Canada hopes to spur a bottom-up, grassroots approach to issues impacting seed regulatory modernization and collaborative advocacy. He says early steps and engagement strategies will significantly increase the likelihood of success, an outcome that is truly representative of the needs of the sector.

During the Seeds Canada semi-annual meeting, Mithani reiterated the fact that government sees the SRM initiative as a chance to make substantial change to Canada’s seed regulations, including rethinking government regulation of seed in Canada.

“I would pose this same question to the seed industry: what do you think that CFIA needs to do to ensure that people are thinking big? Getting this right is important,” Mithani said. “We are open to substantial change, including examining the role of government in the regulation of seed. Hence, our commitment to a full-scale review.”

Mithani said the SRM process is about deciding what role government should play in the seed regulations, and the co-development process it encourages — which has taken the form of eight task teams that will look at various parts of the seed regulatory landscape and put forward recommendations for change — is meant to ensure all those involved in the industry have their voices heard in doing so.

But she also emphasized the need to stay focused on the end goal of SRM.

“The health and safety of Canadians are an important part of what we do; however, some acts that are part of the CFIA’s mandate also have an emphasis on enhancing the economy and consumer protection. We are all working towards the common goal of having appropriate regulations to support a vibrant seed sector and field crop industry in Canada,” she added.

Related Articles

Seed Regulatory Modernization: Are we Not Thinking Big Enough?

Here’s the Latest on what’s Happening with Seed Regulatory Modernization

A Vision of Canada’s Next-Gen Seed System

New Varieties