Ritz signals changes ahead for variety registration system

Federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz has served notice that changes are coming to the way new crop varieties are registered in Western Canada.

In a letter dated Feb. 25, Ritz asked committees involved in registering new crop lines to look for ways to modernize the variety registration system.

Among other things, Ritz suggested that recommending groups operating within the Prairie Grain Development Committee use a flexible approach to approving new crop varieties.

According to Ritz, that new flexible approach could include:

• Reducing data requirements for new crop lines being considered for commercial registration.

• Reducing the number of years that new lines are field tested.

• Using crop performance data from foreign sources to support registration decisions in Western Canada.

• Adjusting committee membership to ensure equitable participation of all industry stakeholders.

• Seeking opportunities to streamline merit assessment.

Ritz asked chairs of all recommending committees within the PGDC to report back to him with suggestions on how the system could be improved.

Each year, the PGDC assesses promising new lines of wheat, barley, oats, pulses, oilseeds and special crops and recommends them for commercial registration to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

PGDC members are meeting in Saskatoon this week.

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