LAWSUIT LAUNCHED OVER PESTICIDES IN ONTARIO
Two large honey producers have launched a proposed class-action lawsuit against Bayer CropScience and Syngenta Canada — two chemical companies that make pesticides, which beekeepers allege are linked to bee deaths. Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey, both family-owned Ontario businesses, say they want to recover significant losses and damages that were suffered by Canadian beekeepers due to the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides. The two honey producers allege that Bayer CropScience and Syngenta Canada and their parent companies were negligent in their design, manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicotinoid pesticides, specifically those containing imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiomethoxam. The lawsuit, which has yet to be certified as a class-action suit, seeks $450 million in damages.
BILL C-18 NOW BEFORE STANDING COMMITTEE
Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz spoke before the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food Oct. 7 about proposed legislation that will provide stronger markets for farmers. If passed, the Agricultural Growth Act (Bill C-18) would modernize existing statutes that regulate Canada’s ag sector and bring them in line with international practices. The Act would provide farmers with greater access to new crop varieties, financial programs and trade opportunities. Bill C-18 would allow Canada to adopt and implement measures from the 1991 International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91) Convention, while protecting a farmer’s right to save, store and clean their own seed. “Canada’s farmers and ag sector need a system that reflects today’s realities and that will bolster competitiveness at home and abroad,” Ritz said. “I encourage the committee to give it careful consideration.”
FINAL APPROVAL GIVEN FOR DOW’s ENLIST SYSTEM
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its decision to deregulate Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist corn and soybeans Sept. 17, and about a month later, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered Enlist Duo herbicide. The Enlist technology from Dow will help farmers manage resistant and hard-to-control weeds in corn and soybean fields. According to Dow AgroSciences, resistant weed infestation doubled between 2009 and 2013. “This has been one of the most extensive evaluations of a new agriculture technology in recent history,” says John Cuffe, global regulatory sciences and regulatory affairs leader with Dow AgroScience. “USDA has produced a thorough, modern assessment.” In the coming weeks, Dow AgroSciences will release its 2015 market intentions. Regulatory authorities outside the United States have already approved components of the Enlist system, including Canada, Australia, Japan, Colombia, Taiwan, Mexico and others.
CANADA/KOREA FTA EXPANDS MARKET FOR WHEAT
The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) is pleased with the outcome of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement. AWC expects the free trade agreement to provide Canadian farmers and agribusinesses improved access to the South Korean market, levelling the playing field with other international competitors. With the potential to boost Canada’s economy by $1.7 billion and bolster the country’s competitive edge as one of the top five agri-food exporters in the world, the agreement will remove all tariffs on Canadian wheat imports. “This is great news for the western Canadian wheat industry,” says Kent Erickson, AWC chair. “Access to the South Korean market is strategic and necessary to remain competitive on the international stage. This trade agreement will help strengthen the wheat industry long-term.” In addition to opening up the market for Canadian wheat in South Korea, the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement will help expand free trade with other Asia-Pacific countries.
CANOLA ON TRACK FOR TARIFF-FREE ACCESS TO EU
The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) is optimistic that the formal end of negotiations for the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) means that the canola industry will soon reap the benefits of the agreement. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, have signed a formal declaration marking the end of negotiations. The CCC says the agreement eliminates oil tariffs and reduces biotechnology-related non-tariff barriers. “Tariffs on canola oil entering the EU will be eliminated immediately upon implementation, which is expected in early 2016,” says CCC president Patti Miller. The CCC estimates that this could provide the opportunity for exporters to increase sales by up to $90 million per year. “In addition to tariff free access, our industry is also encouraged by commitments to find solutions to trade uncertainty and disruption related to biotechnology.” Miller adds that industry has made significant investments in new biotechnology traits and that timely and predictable approval processes encourage more investment. A working group will be tasked under CETA to address the timeliness of approvals for genetically engineered products, science-based policy and development of low-level presence policy.
UPOV COUNCIL HOSTS ITS 48TH ORDINARY SESSION
The Council of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) met Oct. 16. One of the key developments was to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act for Zanzibar. It was determined that the legislation governing breeders’ rights now covers the whole territory of the United Republic of Tanzania and the United Republic of Tanzania can become a UPOV member.