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Agriculture

Officials flagged 900 food items from China with ‘problems’ over two years

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OTTAWA — Canadian inspectors intercepted nearly 900 food products from China over concerns about faulty labels, unmentioned allergens and harmful contaminants that included glass and metal between 2017 and early 2019, according to internal federal records.

The document provides an inside look at imports from China that caught the attention of officials for appearing to fall short of Canadian standards — from gum balls with “extraneous” metal, to three-minute chow mein that contained an insect, to spicy octopus feet flagged for a “non-specific hazard.”

The list, compiled by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, was obtained through access-to-information law.

Its release comes at a time of significant public interest in Canada about cross-border food inspections, especially those involving China.

The scrutiny of agricultural goods has been central to a diplomatic dispute between Canada and its second-biggest trading partner. Bilateral frictions have intensified since the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver and China’s subsequent detention of two Canadians on espionage allegations.

The governing Liberals have come under pressure from rival Conservatives to respond by taking a harder line when it comes to Chinese imports.

In recent weeks, China asked Canada to suspend all its meat-export certificates to the Asian country after Chinese customs inspectors detected residue from a restricted feed additive, called ractopamine, in a batch of Canadian pork products. A statement by China’s embassy in Ottawa said the investigation uncovered at least 188 forged veterinary health certificates and argued the Canadian system had “obvious safety loopholes.”

Chinese authorities have also blocked imports of Canadian canola seeds, alleging they found pests in some shipments. The federal government says it has tried unsuccessfully to send a delegation of inspectors to China to examine the evidence.

The economic consequences of China’s trade actions on Canadian food shipments, as well as the detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, are widely seen as attempts by Beijing to pressure the Liberal government into releasing Meng.

The list from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency shows it’s not uncommon for inspectors to raise concerns about imports from China.

Between the beginning of 2017 and the end of February this year, agency officials “detected problems” with 889 food or food ingredient imports into Canada from China, according to the document.

Only four food shipments, however, from China were refused entry into Canada over that period, CFIA’s quarterly reports show.

An agency spokeswoman said CFIA investigates concerns to determine if it’s a hazard or fails to comply with Canadian standards. When necessary, she said officials take action — including minor label corrections, recalls, product seizure, entry refusals and the cancellation of licences.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in an emailed statement that the issues in the CFIA list do not necessarily correlate to a particular problem with imported food products from foreign countries.

“This is a list of cases reported to the CFIA that informs operational and follow-up activities to verify compliance and take any appropriate actions, in accordance with laws and regulations,” Bibeau said.

“The Canadian food safety system is strong and recognized as one of the best in the world and the government is confident in all products approved by the CFIA as safe for local consumption as well as for export.”

The list only provides numbers for China and does not include comparable numbers for Canada’s other trading partners.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer recently called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to step up inspections on all products from China and to consider slapping tariffs on imports.

Bibeau’s office has said Canada has no intention of increasing inspections on Chinese imports.

Sylvanus Kwaku Afesorgbor, an expert in agri-food trade and policy, wrote in an email that Canada would likely take a long time before implementing actions against Chinese imports.

“Canada will always play to the rules and exhaust all democratic channels available through international trade agreements such as (the World Trade Organization),” wrote Afesorgbor, an assistant professor at the University of Guelph.

“Any retaliatory action may result in trade war and that may negatively affect the two countries.”

Glenford Jameson, a Toronto-based lawyer with expertise in the food sector, said the CFIA list provides an extra level of detail that’s usually omitted from public documents. He added that none of the concerns flagged in the document are highly unusual.

“This list is a list that wouldn’t be surprising from any country, including the United States, and is really just a byproduct of having a stringent food-inspection and food-regulatory system,” Jameson said.

“No food commodity is traded at 100 per cent perfect compliance all the time.”

Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Ag Business

With the world’s population soaring to 10 billion people, Robert Saik explores how farmers “might” be able to feed everyone

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Earth’s population will be close to 10 billion people by 2050.  So consider this line from Robert Saik’s “FOOD 5.0″…

“In order to feed the world, we have to grow 10,000 years’ worth of food in the next 30 years, which means farmers worldwide must increase their food production by 60 to 70%.”

If that doesn’t wake you up… probably nothing can.  How will farmers do it?  Even with today’s technology this it going to take an overwhelming international effort to avoid a mass-starvation.

His first book, “The Agriculture Manifesto – Ten Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade” was a 2014 Best of Amazon Books and this TEDx Talk “Will Agriculture be Allowed to Feed 9 Billion People?” has been viewed over 150,000 times.

In a time where more and more people (in the first world) are demanding to know where their food is coming from and how food is being produced, “FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future” should be required reading.

Robert Saik in the Author Hour Podcast:

“Food 5.0, How We Feed the Future was written for an urban audience, more so than a farming audience. My mental image of who I wrote the book for was a 33-year-old mom in a city with some kids who is working and raising her kids.”

“We live in a time now where all the technologies are smashing together–they are converging on the farm to reshape the farm in ways that urban people just simply do not understand. It is happening at a breakneck pace and farms are far more sophisticated, far more advanced than people realize.”

” you’re going to realize and learn a lot about food production and a lot about marketing.”

In FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future, Robert Saik examines “how technology convergence is reshaping the farm and the consumer”.

Robert has been hailed as an agriculture futurist with unparalleled insight into where the industry is headed.  He’s worked with a variety of agriculturalists from Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture to Bill Gates.

He is the CEO of DOT Farm Solutions, which supports farmers adopting autonomous robotics in broad acre agriculture.  He’s also the founder of AG Viser Pro, a platform that Uber-izes knowledge and wisdom, enabling farmers to instantaneously connect with agriculture experts worldwide.

Robert is a passionate keynote speaker and is executive producer of the Know Ideas Media a science based multi-media company addressing issues such as GMO’s and their use in food production.  (Know Ideas Media is a partner in Todayville.com/Agriculture)

He serves on several Boards, is an advisor to Olds College, is a member of the A100 (Alberta Tech Entrepreneur Network), a student of Strategic Coach and Singularity University and a member of Abundance 360.  As a partner in Perigro Venture Partners he participates in early stage technology investments.

He been recognized for agriculture leadership by the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (Provincial Distinguished Agrologist of the Year) and in 2016 was awarded Canadian Agri-Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association.

Here’s a story produced by Todayville on Robert’s visit to Seattle to brief Bill Gates.

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Agriculture

Prospect of U.S.-China trade deal creates access worries for Canadian farmers

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Canola oil

OTTAWA — China’s move to stop buying several Canadian agricultural products has punished some farmers, and now industry leaders are worrying about the prospect of a broader threat — an eventual U.S.-China trade deal.

Canadian exports of beef, pork, canola and soybeans have largely been locked out of the massive Chinese market following the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

At the same time, a handful of Canadian crops have had stronger sales to China over the past year, such as Canadian wheat, thanks to trade-related tariffs imposed by the U.S.

Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance president Brian Innes says Canada may see indirect benefits from the trade war in the short term — but he worries a deal down the road could have a negative impact on farm exports to China.

Innes says President Donald Trump has been clear that any trade deal must include China agreeing to make major agricultural purchases from the U.S.

He says Canadian exporters would like to see the government push for the removal of non-tariff barriers in other foreign markets — such as those in Europe and the Pacific Rim — because they have prevented farmers from fully benefiting from multilateral trade deals.

At the moment, there are few signs of progress in the U.S.-China trade talks, but negotiators are expected to meet next month.

The Canadian Press

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august, 2019

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