June 22, 2023 (Ottawa, ON)] – The Canada Grains Council (CGC) has concerns about the federal government’s proposed pesticide measures and urges the government to ensure that its actions are based on scientific approaches to pesticide regulation.
“The CGC welcomes the government’s recognition of the importance of science-based pesticide regulations, aligned with Canada’s input at COP15,” says Erin Gowriluk, CGC President. “We must ensure robust decision-making firmly rooted in scientific evidence. By prioritizing evidence-based approaches, we can enhance environmental stewardship and maintain a strong relationship between scientists and policymakers.
Erin Gowriluk, President of CGC, commends the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food’s recognition of the importance of pesticides to food production and security. Gowriluk states, ” We are pleased with the Minister’s recognition of the connection between crop protection and environmental sustainability, as well as the positive impact of conservation tillage methods on carbon sequestration. Canada’s commitment to science-based regulation of crop protection tools demonstrates our dedication to their safe and effective use.”
However, two critical aspects of the government’s announcement contrast with this. The decision to maintain the ‘pause’ on MRL increases appears to be driven by public opinion rather than scientific evidence. Gowriluk explains, “It is difficult to discern any scientific justification for temporarily pausing MRL increases. By persisting with the pause, there is an increasing risk of Canada’s trading partners perceiving it as an intrusion of ideology into policymaking, contradicting our message to other countries. Consistent and science-based regulation is essential for all food shipments, including the substantial quantities of grain Canada, supplies to the world.
Public confidence in regulators relies on consistency between the government’s words and actions. After almost two years of portraying the pause as a temporary measure, the government has now indicated a gradual resumption of MRL increases where deemed necessary, along with implementing a cosmetic pesticide ban on federal lands. These actions have the potential to undermine the government’s explicit recognition that pesticide uses in Canada undergo rigorous testing and assessment to ensure they are safe and pose no unacceptable risks to human health or the environment.
The significance of evidence-based policies that strike a balance between the agricultural sector’s needs and environmental sustainability cannot be overstated. CGC remains committed to collaborating with government officials, industry stakeholders, and scientific experts to develop practical and well-informed pesticide regulations that inspire public confidence and adhere to rigorous scientific standards.
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