Seed World

Lauren Comin Talks About Her Five Number One Priorities

Last week, the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) interprovincial meetings brought together industry leaders and experts to discuss the latest developments and challenges in the field. One prominent figure in attendance was Lauren Comin, policy director for Seeds Canada, who sat down with Seed World Canada for an interview on regulatory modernization and more.

Comin, who previously served as the regulatory affairs manager for Seeds Canada, shared insights into her evolving role and the pressing priorities shaping the future of the seed industry.

When asked about her number one priority in her new role as policy director, Comin explains, “I’m kind of that person that has like five number one priorities.”

However, she highlights the overarching importance of being responsive to members. Intellectual property and plant breeding innovation emerged as hot files, with ongoing concerns about regulatory spaces for gene-edited products. Comin underscored sustainability as a key focus for 2023 and emphasized the ongoing commitment to seed regulatory modernization.

Reflecting on CFIA’s “What We Heard” Report

The conversation shifted towards the recent release of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) “What We Heard” report. Comin expressed cautious expectations, noting the complexity of the topics discussed and the challenge of capturing nuances in a single survey. She highlighted the need to strike a balance between regulatory updates and maintaining public trust in the system.

The ISSB: Evolution and Support

The discussion turned to the Independent Standards Setting Body (ISSB), an initiative proposed by Seeds Canada. Comin emphasized the positive evolution of the ISSB since its introduction in 2022. She explained that the body could provide valuable advice on various policy aspects, beyond just standards, and facilitate continuous improvement in the regulatory space. Despite challenges, she continues to see the ISSB as a valuable asset for both industry and CFIA.

Variety Use Agreements (VUAs): Sustaining Innovation in Plant Breeding

Comin also shed light on the Variety Use Agreement (VUA) platform as a means to ensure continuous investment in plant breeding innovation. With 14 varieties currently in the platform and more expected in 2024, the VUA allows developers and breeders to receive remuneration for the use of their intellectual property. She stressed the crucial role of seed growers as retailers, connecting developers with end customers and facilitating increased innovation investment.

Comin also touched upon recent updates to the VUA platform, aiming to enhance efficiency and user experience for seed growers.