Business & Policy
Canadian crops profile raised
By Canola Council of Canada
May 23, 2013, Ottawa, ON - The 17th round of negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) allowed Canadian agriculture to significantly raise the profile of key priorities for farmers and the grains and oilseed trade. The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) and the Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) were in Lima, Peru for the last eight days as part a Canadian industry delegation.
"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," says Richard Phillips, GGC Executive Director. "It's important that an ambitious TPP agreement include a strong commitment to regulatory coherence and language for a low level presence policy reflective of today's trade in grain."
Phillips and Brian Innes, CCC Market Access Manager, made a formal presentation at the stakeholder forum organized by the Peruvian government, focused on how science-based policies related to maximum residue levels of crop protection products and biotechnology will help improve both trade and international food security.
Presentation is available at www.graingrowers.ca.
"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," says Innes. "Establishing science-based trade rules around biotechnology is an essential part of providing real market access in a 21st century trade agreement."
The Canadian agriculture presentation outlined the reality of global population growth and food needs, and given that most of the good land is already being farmed, there is an urgent need to increase productivity. Some new biotechnology has reduced the need for excessive cultivation to control weeds which use valuable water and nutrients. Other traits have greatly reduced the need for pesticides to control damaging insects or diseases.
The presentation highlighted the need for countries to approve new traits at the same time to facilitate trade. Currently for example, Canada, the US 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 co-mingling in other grain shipments.
The same challenges exist for new crop protection products where some countries have completed thorough testing to international standards and others may take several years to finish. A suggestion was made that the agreement could include language that would permit general acceptance of approvals.
In addition to the formal presentation, Phillips and Innes met with a number of negotiators and stakeholders from across the TPP. There was a clear desire by many agricultural stakeholders for the TPP to build upon existing WTO and bi-lateral trade agreements so that trade can be more efficient and predictable.