The author argues that it’s time to retire the 20-year-old Cartagena Protocol Biosafety agreement because it was designed to allow countries to reject genetically modified crop imports, even though 25 years of safe, GM crop production have refuted claims made by environmental activist organizations. | File photo

GM crop opposition called outdated

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) is an international agreement developed by governments and environmental organizations opposed to the commercialization of genetically modified crops and agricultural biotechnology. Drafted in 2000, the CPB is a sub-agreement of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. To date, 90 countries have ratified the CPB, but the major GM […] Read more

Is gene editing being properly used?

Is gene editing being properly used?

It would be inaccurate to say that plant breeders in Canada are a dime a dozen. A rough estimate places the number of professional plant breeders in Canada at 500. Given the recent innovations, we thought it would be informative to survey this select group about their technology perspectives and uses. As a result, we […] Read more

Two-thirds of Canadian consumers surveyed trust that the regulatory system in place to ensure food safety is doing as intended, but 45 percent felt that they did not possess a good understanding of how risks and therefore food safety are managed.  |  File photo

Lack of knowledge about food is risky

Food and the safety of our food are of the utmost importance to people, or so we thought. In recent research undertaken by my summer student, it appears that most Canadians aren’t all that worried about the safety of the food products they purchase. Two-thirds of Canadian consumers surveyed trust that the regulatory system in […] Read more

Deforestation in Brazil is partly blamed on a need for farmers in that country to increase production to meet livestock feed demands from Europe, which it can’t meet itself because of a refusal to grow genetically modified crops.  |  REUTERS/Bruno Kelly photo

Anti-GMO EU takes Amazon crisis heat

European environmental organizations were among the first to publicly advocate against the commercial introduction of genetically modified crops more than 20 years ago. Since this time, these environmental groups have intensively lobbied to have GM crop production banned in the EU. Today, they’ve been successful in that effort, as Portugal and Spain are the only […] Read more

The argument for a return to small-scale production would see Saskatchewan return to 1970 agriculture, with millions of acres of summerfallow, high rates of soil erosion and very poor soil organic matter, says U of S professor Stuart Smyth. | WP illustration

CBC interviewee’s suggestions would set agriculture back 50 years

On July 30, CBC radio’s Saskatoon Morning program interviewed Saskatchewan farmer and former National Farmers Union executive Nettie Wiebe, in part, about modern farming practices in Saskatchewan (along with Carla Fehr, both representing La Via Campesina, an international peasant movement). The interview appeared to lack balance by who it decided to invite to speak on […] Read more

How to facilitate more rapid adoption of future genomic innovations was a key theme at a recent agricultural biotechnology conference. |  File photo

Crop science can boost sustainability

Efforts to achieve sustainability through crop science, in particular through the genome editing technique called CRISPR, proved to be a key theme at a recent conference in Italy The ICABR conference, held June 4-7 in Ravello, Italy, attracted about 130 people from academia, government and industry, to discuss the latest research on the bioeconomy and […] Read more

Regulations add costs to the products we buy, and if a product is no longer novel, such as herbicide tolerant canola, then the regulations could be lifted, lowering the price of products to consumers.  |  File photo

Herbicide tolerance is no longer novel

In Canada, new plant varieties are regulated based on the final product, not the process used to create the variety. A herbicide-tolerant canola variety is regulated based on the traits that make the new variety novel, not the breeding process used to create it, such as genetic modification. Canada uses a science-based risk assessment and […] Read more

Removing politics from the regulation of crops and foods could have the greatest impact on improving food security.  |  File photo

What does 2019 hold for agriculture?

When it came to making predictions, Carnac the Magnificent, a comedic role played by late night talk show host Johnny Carson, was on top of his game. Too bad for us, it’s tougher predicting what the coming year may hold for food and agriculture. Unlike me, Johnny Carson had the benefit of a gifted sense […] Read more

Removing livestock from much of the ranch and pastureland wouldn’t likely increase food production or sustainability.  |  File photo

Livestock removal hurts sustainability

In discussions over food security and climate change, a common statement made by non-governmental organizations is that one of our staple food sources, livestock protein, needs to be eliminated from human consumption to meet future food demands as well as greenhouse gas emission targets. One of the main arguments made is that cutting livestock from […] Read more

The author wonders how many people outside of farming would be comfortable making the types of risk decisions that producers make every spring.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Billions go into ground each spring

Saskatchewan farmers have spent an average of $1.75 billion on fertilizer and $675 million on fuel every year for the past five years

Farmers are in a unique position among businesses. They must invest billions of dollars months before any profits can be reaped. Across the country, farmers will be busy seeding Canada’s millions of crop acres over the next two months. This spring, Saskatchewan farmers will seed more than 40 percent of Canada’s farmland, or 43 million […] Read more