Food safety: Why end government grain inspection?
Study finds public safety, market confidence, grower's independence all at risk.
by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
OTTAWA, March 31, 2009 — A controversial bill to change Canada's grain regulatory system threatens Canada's grain safety and quality, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
According to the study, Bill C-13 ignores the lessons learned about the dangers of cutting back public inspection. It would eliminate independent government inspection of grain delivered to major elevators around the country and leave grain companies free to arrange their own inspections.
"Keeping pesticide-treated grain, glass, rodent excreta and other dangerous contaminants out of Canada's food grain system is too important a responsibility to hand to grain companies," says CCPA Senior Researcher Scott Sinclair. "The job requires trained inspectors who are independent of the grain companies they oversee and accountable to the public."
The bill would also end an established security program for farmers that guarantees they are paid for the grain they deliver, thereby increasing farmers' risk of catastrophic financial losses if a buyer cannot, or will not, pay for delivered grain.
"In this global economic downturn, and with no workable alternative in place, the government is kicking away a key pillar of financial stability for Canadian grain producers," says CCPA Research Associate Dr. Jim Grieshaber-Otto.
If these and other controversial government proposals are implemented, they would:
• reduce the reputation and competitiveness of Canadian wheat in international markets;
• decrease the price premium Canadian producers now receive for a distinctive product;
• increase the risk of food-safety problems; and
• augment the power of huge US-based multinational grain companies at the expense of Canadian producers.
"The destruction of Canada's existing grain system is avoidable," says Sinclair. "Acting together, opposition parties in Parliament can work in the public interest to safeguard and enhance this remarkable policy and regulatory success."
Links and sources
Download the CCPA report,Threatened Harvest, by Scott Sinclair & Jim Grieshaber-Otto, published March 31 2009
Posted: April 01, 2009
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