The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) is applauding today’s news that two canola traits developed using biotechnology have been approved in China. The approvals open the door for new seed genetics that will enable Canadian farmers to grow hundreds of millions more dollars of canola on the same amount of land.
“This is a great day for canola innovation,” says Jim Everson, CCC president. “These traits will make Canada’s canola crop more resilient in the face of weed, disease and weather stresses – the benefits will be felt through the value chain and the larger Canadian economy.”
Approval of traits in China is particularly important because it is Canada’s largest canola seed customer. Recently, Canada and China agreed to double agriculture trade by 2025. The approval of new seed innovations will increase Canada’s canola supply and is important for providing China a secure and predictable source of grain and protein. Canada’s canola sector will continue to work with China to improve trade predictability.
With the completion of this review in China, the industry can proceed with commercialization of a Liberty tolerance trait from BASF and Bayer’s TruFlex trait. Once these two traits and Corteva’s Optimum GLY are fully commercialized, the industry expects growers will produce $400 million more canola every year using the same amount of land – a step-change for canola productivity. New seed genetics in combination with the new traits will improve yields, weed control, disease resistance and resilience to heat, cold, drought and excess moisture, as well as agronomic factors like reduced harvest loss.
“Not only will we be able to produce more canola to meet growing world demand, we’ll also be able to do it sustainably, using the same land base,” Everson said. “That’s good news for anyone who cares about the health of our environment and a strong, diversified farm economy.”
All three of the traits have been approved in Canada since 2012, but in keeping with the CCC’s Market Access Policy, seed developers have not commercialized them until they are approved in major markets. CCC members voluntarily follow the policy to ensure new innovation does not create trade barriers in Canada’s top canola markets. Meanwhile, the CCC works in partnership with the Canadian government to seek approval for new traits.
“Seed developers invest hundreds of millions of dollars developing a new trait, but they understand the importance of commercializing seed technology responsibly,” Everson said. “They know it’s in everyone’s best interests to keep an eye on the long game, and not just short-term opportunities. It’s one of the reasons our industry is so successful today.”
The CCC and the Canadian government have been seeking the approval of these traits for some time. The support of the government of Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay has been very important. One significant milestone occurred in November when timely approval of biotech products was one of the commitments made by Canada and China during the Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue, an event co-chaired by Minister of Finance Bill Morneau and Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr.
“It’s encouraging to see government engagement result in action,” said Everson, who was in Beijing in November. “Improved cooperation on biotech approvals is a necessary step if we are to reach Canada’s goal of doubling agricultural trade with China by 2025.”
The Canola Council of Canada is a full value chain organization representing canola growers, processors, life science companies and exporters. Keep it Coming 2025 is the strategic plan to ensure the canola industry’s continued growth, demand, stability and success – achieving 52 bushels per acre to meet global market demand of 26 million metric tonnes by the year 2025. Visit canolacouncil.org to learn more.