Science Helps Open the Doors for Canadian Products Abroad


It was great news this week that, following negotiations between Canada and China, canola producers and exporters here will have a shot at expanded access to the Chinese market.

But to me, it was even more noteworthy that science, not politics, helped open the door.

Science is constantly maligned in agriculture, particularly when product safety is on the table. Naysayers, including some urban politicians, claim product manufacturers (e.g., crop protection companies) are in bed with regulatory authorities, using cooked data for compliance purposes or approval.

Never mind that Canada is renowned among manufacturers for having among the toughest (and slowest) regulatory system in the world. Critics also know that, which is one reason Canada is such prized territory for activists. Defeat science with precautionary principles in Canada, where the regulatory system sets global standards, and you really have something to brag about. If a product doesn’t pass muster in Canada, it can hardly be trusted anywhere else in the world, according to this line of thinking.

 So I was glad to see Canola Council of Canada president Patti Miller give a nod to science when she chimed in about the canola announcement. She was clear: this was not just a photo op for the respective governments. Canada worked hard to come up with new science-based procedures for mitigating China’s fear of blackleg. It was those procedures that gave China the confidence to invite more trade.

 “We welcome China’s decision to further open access for Canadian canola seed,” she said. “This underscores the value of science in resolving technical trade issues, and the importance of close industry – government collaboration in building and maintaining market access.”

Absolutely. Urban politicians bent on making hay over agricultural issues and the public’s newfound interest in food should look before they leap into the fray and try scoring points for what they say is the public good. Remember in Canada, science is good, too.

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