A high level political dialogue in Beijing has set the stage for farmers’ ability to adopt new seed innovation. The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) was in Beijing monitoring the Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by Minister of Finance Bill Morneau and Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr. The Dialogue set a goal of doubling agricultural trade by 2025 and resulted in both countries committing to timely approval processes for biotechnology products.
“Senior political leaders agreeing to double agricultural trade between Canada and China by 2025 is helpful for the canola sector,” says Jim Everson, president of the CCC. “Doubling exports means that we will need to address barriers to trade and turn language about timely approval processes for biotechnology into outcomes.”
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay was also present at the Dialogue as agriculture was one of the priority sectors identified for cooperation. A number of commitments were made to enhance cooperation and create a favourable environment for agricultural trade.
The commitment to timely approval processes for biotechnology traits could be helpful because the process has been difficult and slow. Six years after applications for biotech canola traits were submitted, it is not clear when scientists will complete their reviews.
Three canola traits developed using biotechnology are in the final stages of the approval process in China, having been approved in Canada since 2012. These traits include a Liberty tolerance trait from BASF, Bayer’s TruFlex trait and Corteva’s Optimum GLY trait. According to the CCC’s market access policy, seed varieties containing biotech traits are not commercialized until they have been approved in major markets. After approval in China, two of the traits will be ready for commercialization.
“Seed developers have invested hundreds of millions in biotech traits to enable farmers to have better seeds,” says Everson. “We will continue to work with the Government of Canada so that farmers will finally be able to put these innovations in their seeders.”
The CCC estimates that approval of these traits will allow growers to produce approximately 800 thousand tonnes more canola every year using the same amount of land – a step-change for canola productivity. This equates to approximately $400 million more income for farmers when they are fully commercialized. Improved productivity will come from the increased yield of new seed genetics in combination with the new traits. These new product offerings will convey things like better weed control, greater disease resistance, improved resilience to weather stress from heat, cold, drought and excess moisture, as well as improved agronomic factors like reduced harvest loss.
The Canola Council of Canada is a full value chain organization representing canola growers, processors, life science companies and exporters. Keep it Coming 2025 is the strategic plan to ensure the canola industry’s continued growth, demand, stability and success – achieving 52 bushels per acre to meet global market demand of 26 million metric tonnes by the year 2025.