Variety registration process under review

Variety registration recommending committees meeting in Saskatoon Feb. 26 were greeted with this letter from Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

I want to first recognize the variety recommending committees for the time and effort that has been spent on this process over the years to support innovation in the Canadian crop sector. As leaders in your respective areas, your contributions to the development of the crop sector are invaluable.

As you know, the government has committed to a transformational shift in Canadian agricultural policy, with a renewed emphasis on research and innovation, competitiveness and market development.

We continue to make efforts to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden as part of our commitment to a science-based regulatory framework that promotes research and innovation and allows for an efficient, transparent and predictable interaction between government and industry.

As development of new crop varieties is a key component in innovation, it is important that we examine the regulatory system affecting the development and adoption of new varieties, including variety registration, as we work to improve the crop sector. To do this, I have committed to an industry consultation process to gather views on the current process and potential areas for regulatory change. These formal and informal consultations will take place over the next several months.

I am also asking that each recommending committee support the government’s efforts to enhance innovation by undertaking a review of their respective committee structures and procedures with a view to removing barriers that unnecessarily encumber innovation in the crop sector.

I am challenging you to think about the future of variety registration and how best to ensure that Canada has an approach going forward that encourages innovation in variety development and balances the interests of producers and the entire value chain. I would like committees to consider all aspects of the workings of the committee including:

  •  Utilizing the flexibilities available under the current system for streamlining the procedures for the committees;
  •  Reassessing and, if possible, reducing: data requirements, number of years of pre-registration field trials and acceptability of foreign data if applicable;
  •  Adjusting committee structure and membership in order to ensure full and balanced value chain representativeness; and
  •  Seeking opportunities to streamline merit assessment where appropriate and applicable.

I would appreciate hearing back from you about the ideas and reforms that your committee is expecting to implement over the next year to assist in the advancement of the crop sector.

Thank you in advance for your work in helping to renew and transform the crop sector, and I look forward to reading your report and seeing the resulting improvements in innovation.

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