Seed World

Seeds Canada has Picked Erin Armstrong to Flesh Out its ISSB Concept

Erin Armstrong.

Seeds Canada has retained Erin Armstrong, former CEO of Limagrain Cereals Research Canada, to further develop the proposed independent advisory body for seed regulations, referred to as the Independent Standards Setting Body (ISSB).

Armstrong’s work will focus on assessing the needs of the seed sector and its stakeholders as well as conducting an environmental scan, according to a news release. The deliverables of Armstong’s involvement in the project will be the development of a comprehensive model, including mandate, scope, representation, structure, and governance, as well as a recommended timeline for development.

“We are pleased to announce Dr. Armstrong is taking on the role of developing the independent advisory body for seed regulation. Given Erin’s experience in different roles within the seed industry, we believe her varied perspective on this topic will provide independence for the process,” says Ellen Sparry, Seeds Canada president.

The advisory body concept, which was introduced by Seeds Canada at the 2022 Annual General Meeting, is positioned as a permanent group of seed and grain industry stakeholders that can provide guidance directly to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The group also allows for greater diversity and transparency of decision making and prevents conflicts of interest between service delivery and setting standards, according to Seeds Canada.

“Farmers’ ability to access advancements in technology is a vital outcome of a successful
regulatory system. The concept of the advisory body is to recommend regulatory changes to CFIA for timely consideration and implementation; the current process takes significant time and can leave farmers without a competitive edge,” says Barry Senft, CEO, Seeds Canada in its news release.

Seeds Canada has been an advocate for Seed Regulatory Modernization to shift its current operational and technical focus to issues that could make a large impact on the entire agriculture industry, such as variety registration frameworks and domestic seed quality assurance needs. Technical and operational details should be transferred to the independent advisory group to resolve on an ongoing basis, so they are not bound to the SRM consultation timeframe, according to Seeds Canada.

The advisory body should be independent of any existing industry association and should report directly to the CFIA, Seeds Canada adds in its news release.

“The mandate of the advisory body would include policy related to the seeds regulations, standards, and the amendments of those parts of the regulations which are incorporated by reference. Ensuring our regulations are fit for purpose and relevant to the needs of an evolving sector should not be restricted to a single five-year window.”