National | Media Release

Next CFIA President must address regulatory capture by industry

According to the media outlet Real Agriculture, Canadian Food Inspection Agency President Siddika Mithani announced her decision to step down effective January 20, 2023 via a letter sent to colleagues and industry partners. No details regarding reasons for her decision were provided. 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 CFIA President to be replaced 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 Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure the next President of the CFIA is someone who will uphold an unwavering commitment to preventing regulatory capture, and will provide the leadership needed to protect the interests of Canadians, our food and our environment and restore the CFIA’s reputation and credibility.

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For more information:

Stewart Wells, NFU Vice President (Operations) – (306) 741-7694