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CFIA Launches DNA-based Projects to Boost Fruit Plant Trade

  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) oversees food safety, animal health and plant health regulatory programs in Canada. The CFIA works with federal, provincial and territorial science organizations, industry, universities and other partners across Canada to support and develop science that contributes to evidence-based decisions that aim to protect Canada’s food, animal and plant resources. With specific regard to plant health, the import and export of fruit plants must go through the CFIA to test for potentially devastating plant viruses. The CFIA reports that, currently, this testing and quarantine process takes an average of three years to complete, significantly hampering the speed of trade.

  • On August 15, 2017, the CFIA announced that it will lead two projects worth $500,000 that use new DNA-based technologies to reduce the quarantine testing time, thereby helping to boost trade and economic competitiveness in the $240 million Canadian fruit tree industry.

    • The first project aims to dramatically shorten the testing period of seeds, cuttings and bulbs imported into Canada to grow new varieties of plants. More specifically, scientists will use DNA technology to test for all viruses associated with imported plants to get an early indication of any plant diseases present. CFIA notes that this approach could reduce the quarantine testing time by up to two and a half years.

    • The second project aims to streamline the testing of strawberry plants. CFIA notes that, traditionally, multiple tests for viruses are required before exporting strawberry plants to foreign markets. This project will test for multiple viruses in a single test, thus reducing the time and cost to get plants to market.

  • To learn more about the CFIA’s work in DNA-based technologies, known as genomics, click here.

© 2018 Keller and Heckman LLP


About this Author

Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...