Upon learning that the President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency retired effective January 20, 2022, the NFU sent the following letter to Prime Minister Trudeau.
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
RE: President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
It has come to our attention that CFIA President Siddika Mithani has announced her decision to step down effective January 20, 2023 via a letter sent to colleagues and industry partners.
In October 2022, following the revelation that a document summarizing the CFIA’s proposed regulatory interpretation of rules for gene edited seed originated on a computer owned by CropLife Canada, the National Farmers Union, with the support of 13 additional organizations, called for the replacement of Mithani with a leader who “will uphold an unwavering commitment to protecting the interests of Canadians, our food and our environment in order to restore the CFIA’s reputation and credibility.”
In our letter we outlined serious concerns about the CFIA enabling corporate lobby groups to have inordinate influence over its regulatory decisions.
When a regulator such as the CFIA creates rules that favour the industry it is charged with regulating instead of protecting the public interest, this is known as “regulatory capture.” Industries regulated by the CFIA include multinational corporations with huge budgets devoted to influencing regulations, while the members of the general public who engage with regulatory matters act largely as volunteers or through non-profit organizations. It is incumbent on public regulators to be aware of the risk of regulatory capture and take proactive measures to resist corporate influence and to ensure public interest voices are amplified, heard and respected in regulatory decisions.
We therefore urge you to appoint as the next President of the CFIA someone with an unwavering commitment to preventing regulatory capture, who will provide the leadership needed to protect the interests of Canadians, our food and our environment and restore the CFIA’s reputation and credibility.
Vice President, National Farmers Union
CC: Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health