Crop Life Canada will hold its Spring Dialogue Days in Ottawa May 6-8, in which industry reps will discuss neonicotinoids and other agricultural technology issues with academics, farmers and representatives from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
However, the discussions will not be reported in the media because journalists are not welcome at the event. The organization said the presence of reporters would curtail discussion, and certain speakers might not participate if media attended the event.
Crop Life Canada has a right to conduct meetings in private, but doing so only exacerbates the public’s suspicions, considering that a sizable percentage of Canadians don’t trust agricultural chemical companies or the integrity of federal regulators.
Crop Life America is also holding a forum in May, but the crop protection association is taking the opposite approach.
In an effort to bring new voices into the room, Crop Life America has invited environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy and members of the media to speak at its National Policy Conference. The meeting will address relevant and difficult topics, such as, Consumers and Farmers: Where did it All Go Wrong?
A media representative from Al Jazeera America will act as moderator for the event.
Ted Menzies, a former Conservative MP from Alberta, became Crop Life Canada’s president in January. He said he wanted to transform the organization and bridge the gap between organic and conventional agriculture in Canada.
“I am hoping I can be part of changing that ‘them versus us’ debate.”
If those are more than words, Menzies might want to pay attention to the actions of Crop Life America.
Holding private meetings in Ottawa, with only true believers in attendance, does nothing to burnish the credibility of Crop Life Canada or plant science companies.
When it comes to genetically modified crops and pesticides, the trade association has repeatedly said Canadians should trust the science.
Crop Life Canada might convince more people to listen to the science if it was willing to listen to dissenting voices.