Seed World

Regulatory Roundup (Jan 2011)



Ontario Must Open Market to Vegetable Oil Food Products

The government of Alberta has successfully challenged Ontario’s policies restricting the sale of vegetable oil food products. A panel under the Agreement on Internal Trade determined that Ontario regulations restricting the sale of products that blend vegetable oil with dairy ingredients are a barrier to interprovincial trade. Alberta launched the challenge last March, supported by British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as interveners. The AIT panel has given Ontario until February 1, 2011, to remove the restrictions. If Ontario does not comply, it faces a penalty of up to $5 million. In 2004, an AIT panel agreed in favour of Alberta and British Columbia (and Manitoba and Saskatchewan as interveners) in this dispute, obliging Ontario to remove its restrictions. However, Ontario refused to comply with the panel’s findings. Earlier this year, the Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada requested that Alberta challenge Ontario again because of recent amendments to the AIT which strengthen enforcement measures and provide for monetary penalties. The panel report found that the 2004 panel findings regarding economic injury to the vegetable oil industry, including oilseed growers and processors in Western Canada and Ontario, “were legally and factually correct and that the same kind of injury continues as a result of Ontario’s measures.”


Canadian Government Voices Concern Over EU GM Ban

The Canadian government has voiced concerns about a European Union proposal to allow member states to decide whether to ban genetically modified crops, according to Reuters. “Canada is concerned that the EU’s proposal does not appear to be consistent with a science-based approach,” Ottawa said in a letter sent to EU government embassies in Brussels.

Proposed Amendments to Seeds Regulations

Proposed amendments to the Seeds Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on November 6, 2010, for a 30-day comment period. The proposed amendments to the regulations would clearly state that a Canada pedigreed grade name, such as Canada Certified Number 1, and official certification tags could be applied to plant pest tolerance management varietal blends. In addition, the proposed amendments would clarify the requirements for the grading, labelling and advertising of pedigreed seed of PPTM varietal blends to ensure their truthful representation in the marketplace.  These proposed amendments would facilitate the use of this new strategy for the management of pest tolerance characteristics in many crop/pest complexes including the new varieties of wheat tolerant to orange blossom wheat midge.


Proposed European Union/Canada Free Trade Agreement

The Canadian government and the European Union are negotiating a new “free trade” accord, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, containing a number of issues important to the seed industry. It’s been a hot topic in the news recently, as the parties involved held a negotiating round in Ottawa two weeks ago and started working on tariff offers and talking about economic trade areas the parties would like to see covered in the agreement. The biggest controversy in the news is whether the agreement will hinder a farmer’s ability to save seed, and the debate is being led by the National Farmers Union. “The CETA would mean many changes, but none more negative than its effect to extinguish farmers’ rights to save and reuse seeds,” states Terry Boehm, NFU president. “With powers such as those proposed in the CETA, seed companies will gain significant power over who farms and how.” However, most professionals in the seed industry don’t believe there will be anything in the agreement that would not allow farmers to save seed if they chose to without breaching plant breeders’ rights or any intellectual property contracts. The Canadian Seed Trade Association has been following the trade agreement closely and in a phone interview with Shaun Haney of, Patty Townsend, vice-president of CSTA, sets the record straight on what is actually being negotiated with Europe.

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Agreed Upon

After six years of intense negotiations, parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety finally agreed on a new international treaty in Nagoya, Japan. According to the treaty, called the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, countries that import GMOs and plant them will now have a legal claim to redress in case of damage to their biodiversity. The new treaty on liability and redress—named after Kuala Lumpur and Nagoya, the two cities where the final rounds of negotiation were held—is an important addition to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which was passed in the year 2000. For the first time, the treaty establishes legally binding international rules for transboundary movements of living GMOs.

CropLife International Enforces the “Compact”

CropLife International has announced that the Compact, a clearly defined, efficient and fair process for countries to file and process claims related to damage to biological diversity caused by living modified organisms, is now in force. Members of the Compact include six major plant biotechnology providers: BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta. “The plant science industry’s commitment to stewardship and the responsible development and use of living modified organisms has helped ensure there has been no negative impact on biological diversity for over 15 years of commercialization,” says Denise Dewar, executive director of plant biotechnology at CropLife International. Since 2008, the Compact’s founding members have developed the framework and guidelines for filing and arbitrating claims.

WTO Members Agree on Patent Law

Member governments of the World Intellectual Property Organization have agreed on the first work programme for the committee on patent law in nearly five years. The delicate accord, reached after a long week of mostly closed negotiations, was quickly hailed by some as reflecting a new reality for the international patent system with stronger recognition of emerging economies’ interests. The Standing Committee on the Law of Patents has agreed to now begin work on exceptions and limitations to patent rights; quality of patents, including opposition systems; patents and health; client-advisor privilege and transfer of technology. Delegations from 86 countries, five international organizations and 25 non-governmental organizations participated in the session. The next meeting of the committe is in May of 2011.