Organics response to Health Canada postponement of pesticide increases in food

The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) is pleased, yet cautious, that Health Canada is postponing the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s consultation proposing to increase pesticides in our food supply.

The government of Canada issued a statement from the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced that the Government of Canada is putting a pause on proposed increases to Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), including for glyphosate. As a result, there will be no increases to MRLs until at least spring 2022.  As this is simply a pause due to election timing, it is still of grave concern to the organic sector that ultimately the MRLs of pesticides will increase eventually.

Concern has been raised over the years regarding the lack of transparency over the PMRA process and as a result, the Ministers also announced the Government of Canada will begin consulting on specific provisions of the Pest Control Products Act (2002) to consider, among other elements, ways to balance how pesticide review processes are initiated in Canada and increase transparency. $42 million will be invested over three years in Health Canada's PMRA to improve its human and environmental health and safety oversight and protection, including improving the availability of independent data to further support pesticide review decisions and the transparency of decision-making. The goal of this new funding hopes to increase the availability of independent data in the pest management review process by parties such as universities, NGOs, and governments. The Government also will use the funding to create a new expert panel process to provide advice, as appropriate, prior to evidence-based decisions of the PMRA on pesticides, including on MRLs.

“A complete overhaul of the PMRA process needs to occur to be more transparent, allow the scientific studies provided to be peer-reviewed and ensure that organic stakeholders' expertise and needs are taken into account,” states Tia Loftsgard, executive director of the Canada Organic Trade Association. “This pause does not guarantee that the MRLs will not eventually increase, risking our $8.1 billion dollar Canadian organic industry and more importantly, compromising human health, especially in vulnerable populations such as children and those with compromised immune systems.”

The Canada Organic Trade Association will continue its consumer education and lobbying to oppose any increases proceeding.  Canadians are welcome to join the webinar planned for August 31st jointly run by COTA, Prevent Cancer Now, Safe Food Matters and SaskOrganics to educate themselves on this important topic and take action, particularly in light of the upcoming election.  Canadians can register for the webinar now.

For more information:
Tia Loftsgard, Executive Director
Canada Organic Trade Association
Suite 210-4 Florence Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 0W7
Phone: 613-482-1717 ext. 200
Fax: 613-482-2920

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