Seed World

SRM is an Opportunity to Embrace Significant Change, Comin Says

In a rapidly evolving agricultural landscape, the world of seed regulations stands as a complex and dynamic domain. Last month in St. John’s, Nfld., during the Seeds Canada annual meeting, we had the opportunity to sit down with Lauren Comin, regulatory affairs manager for Seeds Canada to chat regulatory matters.

Having been involved in the seed regulatory modernization (SRM) process for several months, she shared her observations on the process. The five-year duration of SRM underscores its intricate nature, demanding ample time to gather information, build recommendations, and engage in extensive consultations.

Amidst the ongoing process, she expressed her desire to see a clear vision of success, laying out a path for transformation. The opportunity to implement significant changes should be embraced to craft an effective and innovative seed regulatory framework.

Benchmarking Study: An Eye-Opener

One highlight that came out of this year’s Seeds Canada meeting was the benchmarking study conducted by John Groenewegen of JRG Consulting Group. This study aimed to compare Canada’s seed system with international counterparts, evaluating its competitiveness and identifying areas for improvement.

Comin commended the report for providing valuable insights. By assimilating the best elements from various seed systems across the globe, Canada has an opportunity to create a true success model. The study revealed diverse models of seed systems functioning successfully, encouraging stakeholders to contemplate a system that caters to Canada’s unique agricultural needs, she said.

Gene Editing and its Implications

While discussing the recent updated guidance from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regarding gene editing, Comin highlighted its potential impact on the seed industry. The guidance indicates that gene-edited products will not face the same regulatory scrutiny as GMOs, opening new avenues for innovation.

Envisioning the Future of Seeds Canada

As the discussion turned towards the future of Seeds Canada> she emphasized the importance of establishing an independent standards-setting body (ISSB). This body would offer advice to CFIA and play a pivotal role in shaping seed regulations.

Given the dynamic nature of the seed sector and the diversity of players involved, a reevaluation of the regulatory framework and decision-making process is essential. Inclusivity and diverse voices at the table will strengthen the industry and foster better decision-making.

The next year holds the promise of progress as Seeds Canada aims to develop a business case and build consensus around the ISSB. By embracing transformation and envisioning success, Canada can carve a path towards an innovative, inclusive, and resilient seed regulatory landscape, she said.