National | Media Release

NFU says “Seeds Canada” name misleading, asks Minister to disallow

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has written a letter to Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister responsible for Consumer and Corporate Affairs, registering their objection to the planned use of “Seeds Canada” as a business name and/or trademark for the corporation that will form when Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA), the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC) and the Canadian Seed Institute (CSI) amalgamate under a new governance structure. On December 2, the four organizations announced their members had voted in favour of this initiative. The Canadian Seed Growers Association, whose members are the farmers who grow Canada’s pedigreed seed, definitively rejected amalgamation with the other four organizations in their August vote.

“The name “Seeds Canada” imitates the names of many government departments and agencies, such as Revenue Canada, Health Canada, Elections Canada, Service Canada, Transport Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and thus implies the new organization is sponsored or controlled by or is connected with the Government of Canada,” said Terry Boehm, former NFU President. “This is illegal under the Canada Business Corporations Act Regulations, so we have asked the Minister to stop them from using this name.”

The new organization’s voting members will be restricted to businesses that make their money in the seed sector. These members include the world’s largest multinational seed corporations – Bayer, BASF, DowDuPont (Corteva), Limagrain, and Syngenta (ChemChina). Its business plan includes lobbying government for changes to the various seed-related laws and regulations. It will also conduct surveillance to support legal action against farmers suspected of intellectual property rights infringement.

The groups’ published business plan clearly shows that this organization plans to be engaged in regulatory activities and its head office will be located in Ottawa. It would be easy for members of the public, including farmers, to mistakenly believe that “Seeds Canada” is a government agency. Using “Seeds Canada” as a business name would improperly and unduly enhance this corporation’s authority. The choice of name appears to be an attempt to appropriate the reputation of the Government of Canada.

“Using the name “Seeds Canada” while advancing its members’ private interests through lobbying, surveillance and regulatory activities would surely cause confusion about government’s role in seed policy, regulation and enforcement,” added NFU member Cam Goff. “This jeopardizes the government’s reputation, and it calls Canada’s democratic values and public interest into question.

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For more information:

Terry Boehm: (306) 255-7638
Cam Goff: (306) 544-2790

Note:

  • Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) is the industry lobby group for businesses involved in plant breeding, seed retailing, seed treatment. Its current membership of 125 includes 102 for-profit business, of which 43 are not Canadian.
  • Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA) is a private investigator working on behalf of seed companies seeking to sue farmers for patent and/or plant breeders’ rights infringement.
  • Canadian Seed Institute (CSI) accredits and monitors Canadian seed establishments, authorized importers and accredited seed testing labs under authority delegated to it by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
  • Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC) is the professional association of seed analysts, individual who are qualified and accredited by CSI to do seed testing.
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