Canada has a flexible variety registration system so it doesn’t need changing, Dale Adolphe, executive director of the Canadian Seed Growers Association, told the Manitoba Seed Growers Association’s annual meeting in Winnipeg Dec. 12.
But what does need changing, he added, is how quickly the federal government moves a crop kind to a different registration regime after the industry requests it.
“We value the flexibility of the current system,” Adolphe said. “What we don’t value is the responsiveness of the government to make the changes through the system.”
However, that might change, he said. The Agricultural Growth Act, tabled in Parliament last month contains provisions that should make it easier to make changes faster.
The current system for recommending new varieties was implemented in 2009 after extensive industry consultation, Adolphe said.
Under the current system there are three options for registering new varieties. Part I is what exists now for new wheats in Western Canada. They must go through pre-registration trials with merit assessment overseen by an expert committee. Based on the data the committee decides whether or not to recommend the Canadian Food Inspection Agency register the variety.
Under Part II new varieties must go through pre-registration trials, but merit assessment is not required.
Crops under Part III only need to meet basic variety registration requirements. Pre-registration trials and merit assessments are not required.
Industry players, if there is a consensus, can ask the government to move a crop to a different part. The canola industry did that weeks after the new registration system was implemented, Adolphe said.
In contrast, the federal government has failed to put oilseed soybeans under Part III even though the industry requested it four years ago.
“The failure is not the (existing registration) system, but the government’s regulatory change process,” he said.
Some critics don’t want any new crop kinds placed under the registration system, Adolphe said.
“I think the Brassica carinata sector is looking at having carinata… subject to variety registration and that option should be there for the value chain if that’s what you want,” he said.
The Manitoba Seed Growers Association also supports the current registration system because of its flexibility.