Pierre Petelle (left) is president of CropLife Canada. Kim McConnell is the founder and former CEO of AdFarm, a communications company that has worked with CropLife over the years.

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CropLife Canada sees a growing demand for its expertise on policy discussions around international trade issues in the coming years.

As president of  CropLife Canada, which represents Canadian manufacturers, developers and distributors of pesticides and products of modern plant breeding, Pierre Petelle knows what a big responsibility the organization has within the seed industry.

Consumers increasingly want to know where their food comes from and how it was grown, which offers an opportunity for CropLife Canada to explain the role plant science technologies play in food production.

“They have questions about things like GMOs, and CropLife Canada is working hard to fill the information gap with credible information,” he says. “We are part of a broader agriculture industry movement to establish public trust in the food system, which ultimately impacts policy decision making.”

As the industry looks to forge a next-generation seed system for the country through the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project, CropLife Canada’s place in that broader industry is something he’s excited to discuss.

“The Seed Synergy project is an important exercise in bringing together all the players in the seed sector to explore how we can all work more efficiently together,” Petelle says. “As we collectively develop a proposal for a next-generation seed system we’ll be able to reassess how our organizations work together. In the case of this work, the eventual form will follow the function.”

Petelle sees many challenges and an equal number of opportunities on the horizon for the seed sector.

“New breeding tools such as gene editing will change the landscape of the seed sector, and CropLife Canada will need to continue to be positioned to advocate for policy and regulations that enable farmers and consumers to access the benefits of these technologies, while addressing any safety concerns.”

As more patents for novel traits expire in the future, CropLife Canada will need to continue to partner with groups like the Canadian Seed Trade Association to develop approaches to managing off-patent products that ensure the continued stewardship of these products and protection of international market access, he adds.

“We will also need to develop reasonable approaches to protecting intellectual property to provide continued incentives for innovators to invest in developing new products that will benefit farmers and consumers.”

Perhaps most significant, he says, will be an increasing demand for CropLife Canada’s expertise on policy discussions around international trade issues such as low level presence of products of plant biotechnology and maximum residue limits concerning pesticides, and the organization will need to continue to offer that expertise in an effective way.

To accomplish all of this, CropLife Canada will continue to work with the industry’s other stakeholder groups to advance the collective interests of the agriculture industry.

Many of CropLife Canada’s members are leaders in the chemical business in addition to the seed business, and that’s a huge asset as far as the Seed Synergy project is concerned, says AdFarm founder and former CEO Kim McConnell, who has worked with CropLife Canada for years providing strategic advice.

“The role CropLife Canada plays will continue to be very important,” he says. CropLife Canada’s involvement in the Seed Synergy initiative means there’s more interplay and interaction between all the players in the crop input sector, and that’s a good thing, he adds.

“In Canada we have the benefit of seeing collaboration in the chemical business, the biotechnology and genetics business and trade. Traditional industry segments that operated rather independently now realize that there are benefits for many when greater teamwork occurs — and that’s what the Seed Synergy project is doing. We have six seed industry organizations saying, ‘Hey, we need to work more closely than we have in the past.’ That’s why Seed Synergy is so significant,” McConnell says.

—The Past, Present, Future series examines each of our sector’s six representative groups over the next several months to offer insight into why they were founded, what they do, and the role they expect to play in the future. 

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