Robynne Anderson's Emerging Thoughts on Ag

Innovation in Agriculture

The Senate on Innovation in Agriculture has tabled its report on Innovation in Agriculture.  It opens with a quote from Art Enns, Manitoba farmer and a President of the Prairie Oat Grower Association.

“Farmers are constantly being challenged to find new solutions to new problems. The challenges faced by the farmer in the future will likely be very different from the problems faced today. Farmers are very good at what they do. They adapt to new markets, innovate new techniques and are constantly looking for ways to increase productivity.”

 

With this insight top of mind, the report goes on to make 19 recommendations summarized below:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/412/agfo/rep/rep06jun14-e.pdf

 

Recommendation 1 (page 35)

The Committee recommends that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the Canadian Grain Commission complete the regulatory amendments of the Seeds Act to modernize the variety registration process.

 

Recommendation 2 (page 36)

The Committee recommends that Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency make changes to the Safety Assessment Process for Plants with Novel Traits to centralize information and data collection, accelerate the review process, and improve predictable timeframes.

 

Recommendation 3 (page 37)

The Committee recommends that Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency strengthen the safe, predictable, and transparent system for commercialization of plants with novel traits for molecular farming.

 

Recommendation 4 (page 38)

The Committee recommends that:

Health Canada, through all relevant stakeholders, including the provinces and territories, continue its ongoing research activities related to the efficacy of pesticides and their safety for humans, animals, and on the environment; and

Health Canada take the necessary action to reduce the number of conditional registrations of pest control products.

 

Recommendation 5 (page 39)

The Committee recommends that Health Canada, while maintaining Canada’s high food safety standards, develop innovative procedures that reduce the time for the evaluation of technical and scientific data during the safety assessment of food additives, novel foods (including biotechnology-derived foods and foods bearing health claims, such as functional foods) and infant formula prior to their commercialization.

 

Recommendation 6 (page 40)

The Committee recommends that:

the Canadian Food Inspection Agency continue to address disease control and prevention in its modernization of animal health regulations; and

the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, together with the provinces, territories, and stakeholders, work on implementing a new national disease surveillance plan.

 

Recommendation 7 (page 41)

The Committee recommends that the Canadian Intellectual Property Office review the patent application process as well as evaluate the impact of renewing or extending the length of patent protection on the Canadian market.

 

Recommendation 8 (page 42)

The Committee recommends that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency bring the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act (1990) up to the standards of the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.

 

Recommendation 9 (page 44)

The Committee recommends that Health Canada and Environment Canada strengthen regulations on nanomaterials to reflect the recommendations made by the Council of Canadian Academies in its 2008 report. The Committee recommends that changes to the regulations be made as soon as possible.

 

Recommendation 10 (page 45)

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada harmonize its regulations with those of its trading partners in key areas in the agriculture and agri-food sector without compromising health or the environment and that this become part of any new trade agreements.

 

Recommendation 11 (page 49)

The Committee recommends that

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, set common strategic priorities for science and innovation that will be part of a long-term vision and integrated with sector objectives for profitability, sustainability, and competitiveness; and

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ensure stakeholders are fully aware of the funding from all sources that are allocated to common strategic priorities.

 

Recommendation 12 (page 51)

The Committee recommends that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in cooperation with the provincial and territorial governments, continue and augment the funding of the AgriInnovation Program and renew the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program or develop a similar program so that farmers can continue to resolve issues specific to their region.

 

Recommendation 13 (page 52)

The Committee recommends that

the Government of Canada encourage the use of second- and third-generation biofuels in conventional fuel; and

the Government of Canada establish funding programs to support research into and the commercialization of second- and third-generation biofuels.

 

Recommendation 14 (page 52)

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada enhance the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Program to reflect the needs of the agriculture and agri-food sector and related sectors.

 

Recommendation 15 (page 54)

The Committee recommends that:

the Government of Canada facilitate researchers’ access to suitable agricultural research facilities and equipment by means of existing funding and infrastructure programs;

the Government of Canada earmark funds to develop long-term data-sharing tools when providing financial support to research projects; and

the Government of Canada reinstate agri-food as a priority research area for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the National Research Council Canada.

 

Recommendation 16 (page 56)

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada set policies which enhance the access of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to venture capital in order to better meet the needs of SMEs in the agriculture and agri-food sector.

 

Recommendation 17 (page 58)

The Committee recommends that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada strengthen vertical and interdisciplinary collaboration by fostering communication with consumers, academia, and federal departments and agencies interested in agricultural and agri-food issues.

 

Recommendation 18 (page 60)

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue its work on the Codex Alimentarius Commission in order to better harmonize pesticide maximum residue limits and thereby promote the elimination of sanitary and phytosanitary barriers.

 

Recommendation 19 (page 60)

The Committee recommends that Agriculture and Agri-food Canada improve the strategic market information available to sector stakeholders in order to effectively meet their needs