Seed World

Register Now for Seed Summit 2022 and Help Craft the Future of our Industry

Siddika Mithani is president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

What do growers and end users need from the seed system in Canada? How do we encourage more innovation and growth? What role should government play in the relationship between seed seller and seed buyer?

An upcoming event initiated by Seeds Canada in partnership with a slate of producer and commodity groups will examine these questions and more, as it seeks to help determine the future of the Canadian seed system and how well it can meet the needs of producers and end users.

Seed Summit 2022 will take place as a virtual event happening as three single-day sessions over the course of a three-week period. Organizers are welcoming all stakeholders and users of seed to join the sessions on Feb. 7, 14, and 23.

According to Barry Senft, executive director of Seeds Canada, results from the summit will be documented and offered as a resource for the Seed Regulatory Modernization (SRM) process, which is ongoing.

“The concept of this summit stemmed from a belief by Seeds Canada members that the needs of end-users of seed must be a larger part of the conversation and more clearly understood. Does the current framework support our customers and in turn, businesses? Is it supporting innovation and advancement?” Senft asked.

“We view this summit as a great way to gain insight from all levels of the value chain that would inform the SRM vision and guide the efforts of the SRM process. It’s important that we approach this challenge with ambition and embrace change as opposed to preserving the status quo.”

The idea for the event was sparked in 2021 after those involved in SRM talks felt there was a need for bigger ideas to be brought forward to help inform the SRM process, which is being spearheaded by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and is designed to modernize Canada’s seed regulatory system.

Senft says the industry is in need of having a “big picture” discussion to facilitate significant regulatory change.

“Despite having already begun the SRM process, we haven’t had the chance to come together as an industry and discuss the vision for what the future of the seed industry should look like,” Senft said.

“We need the big picture laid out, so those involved in the SRM process can work toward that vision. Seeds Canada is participating in the SRM process with the understanding that the needed changes are going to occur. This was meant to be a substantial review of the seeds regulations, and that’s what we want to see come out of it.”

Producer and industry groups agree, and a number have come on board to make the summit a reality — Cereals Canada, Canola Council of Canada, Canadian Canola Growers Association, Canadian Horticultural Council, Western Canadian Wheat Growers, Soy Canada, Grains Farmers of Ontario, and the Ontario Agri-Business Association.

3 Big Topics for Discussion

The summit will be framed around three separate themes that address the key components of a sustainable, competitive, end-user friendly Canadian seed system.

Feb. 7: Canada’s Seed System: Past, Present, Future. The Seeds Act and Regulations in Canada were originally put into place in 1905 and the last major revision was completed in 1996. There is consensus on the need for change, summit organizers say, and the event is meant to help pinpoint where the changes are needed. The Feb. 7 session will review and address how Canada’s seed system has evolved over the past 100+ years, determine where the current pressure points are in the system, and look to where we need to be in the next 25+ years.

Feb. 14: Understanding and meeting the needs of producers. Producers across Canada are the primary customer of the seed system. This day’s session will review and establish what the producer needs are — domestically and internationally — and explore opportunities on ways the seed sector can address these needs.

Feb. 22: Variety development and delivery. Canada has a reputation for delivering high quality varieties that meet the needs of producers and end users. Variety registration is one component of a broader system that includes variety classification and plant breeders’ rights. This theme will attempt to identify what is needed to enable delivering varieties from plant breeders to test plots to market.

A panel with representation from the various segments of the value chain, domestic and international markets, and varying opinions across topics will be represented for all themes. Following each panel discussion, there will be time for an open dialogue between participants and the panel — participants can ask questions and put their ideas forward for how they feel Canada’s seed system should be modernized.

Senft adds nothing is off-limits and hope that ambitious ideas come out of the summit The summit is free and open to all stakeholders to attend. Pre-registration will be required by visiting

Siddika Mithani is president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Rethinking Government Regulation

Seeds Canada’s semi-annual meeting was held in November and included a member discussion on SRM and also a roundtable with Siddika Mithani, president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

During the semi-annual meeting, Mithani reiterated the fact that government sees the SRM initiative as a chance to make substantial change to Canada’s seed regulations, including rethinking government regulation of seed in Canada.

“I would pose this same question to the seed industry: What do you think that CFIA needs to do to ensure that people are thinking big? Getting this right is important,” Mithani said. “We are open to substantial change, including examining the role of government in the regulation of seed. Hence, our commitment to a full-scale review.

Mithani said the SRM process is about deciding what role government should play in the seed regulations, and the co-development process it encourages — which has taken the form of eight task teams that will look at various parts of the seed regulatory landscape and put forward recommendations for change — is meant to ensure all those involved in the industry have their voices heard in doing so.

But she also emphasized the need to stay focused on the end goal of SRM.

“The health and safety of Canadians are an important part of what we do; however, some acts that are part of the CFIA’s mandate also have an emphasis on enhancing the economy and consumer protection. We are all working towards the common goal of having appropriate regulations to support a vibrant seed sector and field crop industry in Canada,” she added.