Seed World

Regulatory Roundup | July 2012




Government Closes Winnipeg’s Cereal Research Centre
The Cereal Research Centre in Winnipeg will be shut down as part of a wave of federal budget cuts that could affect 775 public-sector jobs across the Prairie provinces, according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The loss of the Cereal Research Centre, which is involved in wheat and oat breeding, is a blow to the seed industry and works against the recent push for increased investment in cereals. The long-term impact of the centre’s closing remains to be seen. PSAC officials have reported that 5,561 of its members across Canada, in 23 government departments, have received notices saying they could lose their jobs. About 775 of the affected positions are in the Prairies, according to the public-sector union. There may also be cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which could impact seed registration and certification.


New Rules Help Canadian Seed Industry
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has amended the Seeds Regulations to provide greater consistency for how seed blends created to manage pests are labelled, tagged and graded. This change benefits farmers and the Canadian seed industry by making it easier to identify these specialized blends in the marketplace. “These amendments will help producers choose the pest management strategy that works best for their crops and allows seed producers to better market their innovative products,” said Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “Blends intended to manage pests can help increase crop yields, maintain crop quality and improve a producer’s bottom line, benefiting the entire Canadian agriculture sector.” The amendments, now published in Canada Gazette, Part II, are based on a series of consultations with plant breeders, seed growers, seed companies, seed distributors and grain producers. The amendments apply to seed blends intended for pest management of certain crops, such as wheat and corn.

Court Approval Granted for Acquisition of Viterra by Glencore
Viterra Inc. has announced that court approval has been granted for the Plan of Arrangement pursuant to which a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glencore International plc will acquire all the issued and outstanding shares of Viterra. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has issued a final order approving the arrangement under the Canada Business Corporations Act. Viterra expects the transaction to close by the end of July 2012, although this date is not certain and may change. The closing of the transaction is subject to the satisfaction or waiver of all conditions that are applicable to the arrangement, including the granting of approvals or clearances under the Investment Canada Act.

Harper Government Introduces Safe Food for Canadians Act
The Government of Canada has introduced the Safe Food for Canadians Act, which it says will strengthen the Government’s ability to protect Canadian families from potentially unsafe food. “The Safe Food for Canadians Act strengthens and modernizes our food safety system to make sure it continues to provide safe food for Canadians,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Act will improve food oversight by:
• Instituting a more consistent inspection regime across all food commodities;
• Implementing tougher penalties for activities that put the health and safety of Canadians at risk;
• Providing better control over imports and exports; and
• Strengthening food traceability.

CFIA Developing New Self-Assessment Labelling Tool
The CFIA is developing and implementing an online self-assessment labelling tool. This tool will help producers, manufacturers and retailers create compliant labels. It is expected that this tool will reduce the amount of time CFIA staff spend working directly with industry to explain and clarify labelling rules. The CFIA expects to launch the labelling tool in 2014 to 2015. In the interim, industry and other stakeholders will be consulted to ensure that this new tool meets its desired outcome.


Canadian Government Strengthens Agricultural Co-operation with Kazakhstan
Canadian producers and agricultural researchers now have new opportunities for co-operation in Central Asia after the Canadian government and the Republic of Kazakhstan signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The MOU will increase co-operation in the areas of animal and plant production and development, and it will also increase knowledge sharing and exchanges of new technologies. There are many opportunities for further co-operation and trade between the two countries, particularly in the livestock and meat sector, and this MOU could help generate new business opportunities in both countries. A joint Canada-Kazakhstan working group will be established and will meet annually to ensure that the goals of this MOU are met.

France Ratifies the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention
At the end of April, the Government of France ratified the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. The purpose of UPOV is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society. France, which is already one of the 70 members of UPOV, is the fiftieth member to become bound by the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention. The 1991 Act entered into force in France on May 27, 2012, one month after the deposit of its instrument of ratification.

Cibus Global Strengthens IP Position
Cibus Global has announced that the intellectual property position related to its proprietary Rapid Trait Development System has been further strengthened after the European Patent Office’s decision to uphold a key patent and to indicate allowance of claims for an additional patent. Cibus’ RTDS uses the basic processes of nature to develop desirable characteristics in plants. The patent covers a core method related to the use of oligonucleotides in relation to crop protection. “The decision by the EPO validates the innovative nature of this work and further strengthens our position,” says Keith Walker, president of Cibus Global.

Quadruple Stack Corn Approved in Argentina
The Secretary of Agriculture in Argentina has approved Syngenta’s MIR604 trait and quadruple corn stack—Agrisure Viptera 4—for cultivation. “Agrisure Viptera 4 corn seed sets new standards in insect control by combining Syngenta’s corn rootworm trait with the outstanding performance of Agrisure Viptera against lepidopteran pests,” says John Atkin, chief operating officer of Syngenta. “This approval shows that we are at the forefront in the introduction of innovative technologies to corn growers in Argentina. These technologies will play an important role in our development of an integrated offer, including market-leading seed care and crop protection.” Syngenta’s triple stack corn seed with herbicide tolerance and above-ground insect control was approved in November 2011. The addition of the MIR604 trait will represent an important tool for growers as the incidence of corn rootworm in Argentina increases.