Prairie Post (West Edition)

Croplife involvemen­t in regulation means CFIA President must be replaced, say groups


In September, Radio Canada revealed that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) had circulated a summary of an important regulatory proposal via a document that was produced on a computer owned by CropLife Canada. This indication of improper collaborat­ion between the CFIA and CropLife has shaken confidence in the CFIA’s ability to protect the public interest. Public confidence in our food and agricultur­e sector depends on regulatory oversight that operates transparen­tly and in the public interest at all times. Friday, October 14th the National Farmers Union, Canadian Biotechnol­ogy Action Network, Council of Canadians, Ecological Farmers Associatio­n of

Ontario, Ecology Action Centre, Environmen­tal Defence, Farm Folk/ City Folk, Friends of the Earth Canada, Greenpeace Canada, Safe Food Matters, Sierra Club BC, Union Paysanne, Vigilance OGM, United Food and Commercial Workers union and Young Agrarians wrote to Agricultur­e and Agri-Food Minister Bibeau requesting that she replace the President of the CFIA in order to restore the CFIA’s reputation and credibilit­y.

The Radio Canada article, OGM : Ottawa présente sa réforme en utilisant les fichiers d’un lobby agrochimiq­ue, provided alarming evidence of inappropri­ate collaborat­ion between our public regulator and the private corporatio­ns whose products it regulates, to the point that it appears CropLife is effectivel­y directing the CFIA. The document sets out CFIA proposals for how regulation­s governing many gene-edited seeds are to be interprete­d, and puts forward a system that would benefit the multinatio­nal seed corporatio­ns by allowing them to release many new gene-edited seed varieties without independen­t government safety assessment­s or other government oversight, and without disclosing they are gene-edited to government or the public, including farmers and our customers.

“The proposed system would harm Canadian farmers who need to know what they are planting in order to manage their farms and maintain access to sensitive markets,” said NFU President, Katie Ward. “The proposed regulatory guidance would also weaken public trust in our food regulatory system by preventing independen­t scientific evaluation by government regulators before these products are sold, and allowing them to be released with no reporting to government or the public.”

“As a public regulator, empowered by laws and regulation­s passed by democratic­ally elected Members of Parliament, the CFIA is accountabl­e to the public, not to the companies it regulates,” added NFU member and former President, Terry Boehm. “The CFIA is formally committed to maintain regulatory independen­ce from all external stakeholde­rs. We need the agency to be led by a new President who we can count on to put this value into practice at all times .”

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