Clear rules needed on low-level GM contamination

Clear and reasonable rules for low levels of genetically modified grains and oilseeds need to be part of any Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Canadian farm leaders told their counterparts from Peru and other countries during a recent trade trip to Lima.

“It was a great opportunity to explain to negotiators and other stakeholders why the TPP needs to include provisions that will give all farmers better market access,” said Richard Phillips, executive director of the Grain Growers of Canada.

“It’s important that an ambitious TPP agreement includes a strong commitment to regulatory coherence and language for a low-level-presence policy.”

Phillips and Brian Innes, market access manager for the Canola Council of Canada, made that pitch during a forum organized by the Peruvian government.

The duo said science-based policies related to maximum residue levels of crop protection products and biotechnology will help improve both trade and international food security.

“The reality in the world today is that biotechnology is playing a central role in crop production, and we need strong policies that facilitate trade and avoid unnecessary non-tariff trade barriers,” said Innes.

Biotechnology will be key to meeting global food demand in the coming decades and can help reduce excessive cultivation to control weeds and pesticide use, they said.

Their presentation highlighted the need for countries to approve new traits at the same time to facilitate trade. Currently, for example, Canada, the U.S. and Australia could approve a new trait, which then might take several years for registration in other countries. This has the effect of creating an artificial trade barrier due to the possibility of very low levels of dust or commingling in other grain shipments.

In addition to the formal presentation, Phillips and Innes met with a number of negotiators and stakeholders involved in the talks.

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