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Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions’ delighted with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) updated guidance on plant breeding innovation

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has recently announced its updated guidance on plant breeding innovation, enabling Alberta’s wheat and barley farmers to access improved plant varieties and supporting their commitment to sustainability. This announcement, supported by both the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley, marks a critical milestone to a long consultation process launched in 2021.

“The publication of CFIA's new guidance will enable innovation that allows Alberta farmers to access better plant varieties that are resilient to pests and stress to keep up with increasing global demands for food production,” said Greg Sears, Alberta Wheat Commission chair. “Many of our global trading partners have already adopted similar science-based policies this will allow Alberta’s farmers to remain competitive on his world stage.”

The CFIA's updated guidance is grounded in the same science that informed Health Canada's approach last year, and will allow for innovations in breeding, including gene-editing, that can provide grain varieties that are drought, pest, and disease resistance

As many farmers and researchers know, gene editing is a powerful tool that can enhance plant characteristics quickly and precisely, potentially reducing the use of water, pesticides, fertilizers, land, and other resources in crop production. These innovations can help farmers in Alberta adapt to changing climate conditions and pest pressures while continuing to sustainably produce safe, high-quality food for Canadians and consumers worldwide.

“In 2022, Alberta’s crop farmers seeded the most expensive crop in recent history, with technology like gene editing on the horizon, farmers will be given another opportunity to manage inputs more effectively while sustaining ecosystems and reducing greenhouse gas,” said Sears.

With CFIA's new guidelines on plant breeding innovation, Canada’s and the province’s competitiveness can flourish. Allowing farmers more tools, while maintaining market choice and transparency, to mitigate challenges with climate change, increasing pest pressures and the expanding needs of end-users. Thanks to these guidelines, Albertan and Canadian farmers now have a path forward on sustainable productivity growth to keep up with global demand.

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