Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau admits it was “inappropriate” for civil servants and an agrichemical lobby leader to work in the same Word document on a reform aimed at overseeing a new generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the wake of this controversy, it promises organic farmers the traceability of seeds resulting from gene editing.
Posted yesterday at 5:52 p.m.
On Monday, Radio-Canada revealed that the name of a leader of an agrochemical lobby appeared as “author” in the metadata of files distributed under embargo by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to various government officials and stakeholders. agricultural world.
The discussion paper presents a new “key guideline” for interpreting the Canadian Seeds Regulations. He proposes to exempt plants resulting from “gene editing” from the obligation to be evaluated by the government before being introduced into the Canadian environment, as has been required for new GMO plants since the 1990s. .
“I was assured of one thing, the original document is indeed from the CFIA, but nevertheless, I do find it confusing to work on the same document. It seems to me that it would be much more appropriate for stakeholders to send their recommendations in completely separate briefs. I had this discussion with a leader of the Agency on Tuesday morning, ”she explained in an interview with The Press.
She insisted the document was a “draft” used in consultations with industry players. “We cannot say that this is the orientation of the Agency, it is an option that is on the table”, made a point of specifying the minister.
In its current form, the reform project as presented in the document “does not achieve an objective which is very important for the government, which is to protect the organic sector. So this option cannot be chosen. […]so we must [que l’ACIA] keep doing your homework,” she added.
Bibeau tries to reassure organic farmers
There are no gene-edited plants grown in the Canadian agricultural system yet. This new technology makes it possible to modify the existing DNA sequence of plants without inserting foreign genes, as is the case with so-called traditional GMOs.
However, this reform was rejected outright by the Quebec agricultural community, which fears compromising the organic certification process.
In addition to not using synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, organic farming must guarantee that it does not use GMOs. Without a mandatory declaration mechanism before the marketing of future seeds, the organic sector in Quebec feared that it would no longer be able to meet this obligation.
“The integrity of the organic certifications must be guaranteed at the end of the work and that is a very clear directive that I gave to the agency”, specified Minister Bibeau.
Concretely, how will the Canadian government manage to assure organic producers that they will not plant GMO seeds without knowing it? The method of achieving this remains to be determined, she says.
“Automatically, there must be one way or another to ensure traceability, transparency,” promises Mme Bibeau.