A trade mission to China has set the stage for Canadian farmers to adopt new seed innovation.

Federal Agriculture Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, wrapped up the 10 day trade mission last week where he was joined by over 300 Canadian delegates, almost 100 of which were representatives from the agriculture sector.

On his visit to China, Canada and China signed 18 agriculture and agri-food agreements worth over $353 million.

The two countries also set goals of doubling agricultural trade by 2025 and committed to timely approval processes for biotechnology products.

The Canola Council of Canada has said this commitment could be helpful in regards to the slow and difficult approval processes for canola traits developed using biotechnology, as seed varieties containing biotech traits are not commercialized until they have been approved in major markets like China.

MacAulay says, Canada supplies over 90 percent of China's canola.

"Canada certainly has a great portion of the Chinese canola trade, but we would like to have that canola traits issue resolved. We worked on it and are continuing to work on it."

The Canola Council of Canada says, three canola traits developed using biotechnology are in the final stage of approval in China, although they've been approved in Canada since 2012.

The Council's President, Jim Everson, says doubling exports means trade barriers will need to be addressed, and language about timely approval process for biotechnology will need to turn into outcomes.

"Seed developers have invested hundreds of millions in biotech traits to enable farmers to have better seeds. We will continue to work with the Government of Canada so that farmers will finally be able to put these innovations in their seeders.” 

It's estimated the approval of these traits will allow farmers to produce about 800,000 tonnes more canola every year on the same amount of land.

The trade mission to China was the largest agriculture trade mission in Canada's history.

 

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