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Transparency and International Cooperation

The CFIA is committed to making itself a more transparent organization. This means keeping the public informed about what we do while maintaining and building public confidence in how we do our job. The links below outline the steps we have taken to become more transparent. You will find information on the various consultations we engage in the help us develop new regulations, our collaborations with external expert advisory bodies, our responses to environmental petitions and details about how the public is consulted and can access information related to biotechnology.

Public Access to Information

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) strives to improve its communications as many Canadians have asked for more information about biotechnology-derived products.

Promotion and Regulation: Different and Distinct Government Roles

The government believes that it is important to keep its regulation function separate from any economic promotion function. These functions are kept independent of each other by assigning different and distinct mandates to separate departments and agencies. These mandates are established by legislation. All departments and agencies are accountable to Parliament for how well they fulfill their assigned duties.

The creation of the CFIA, in 1997, clearly reinforced the division of federal powers between the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and the Minister of Health. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, through the CFIA, is responsible for animal and plant health standards and related inspection activities. With regard to food, the CFIA conducts all federal food inspection activities while Health Canada establishes policies and standards relating to the safety and nutritional quality of food sold in Canada. In addition, Health Canada assesses the effectiveness of the CFIA's activities related to food safety.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act separated the agency from any part of the government involved in research and development of biotechnology products. In addition, the CFIA is separated from other arms of the government responsible for trade promotion, market information and policy related issues such as farm income and rural development. No CFIA employee is involved in the economic promotion of agricultural products or foods

International Cooperation

The CFIA helps Canada fulfill its commitment to being a good global citizen by engaging with other governments and international institutions.  This allows us to promote the safe, science-based regulation of biotechnology- derived agricultural products.

Officials from the CFIA meet regularly with their counterparts from other countries in a variety of fora.  This gives our regulators the chance to learn from the experiences of other countries and it gives other countries the opportunity to learn about Canada's regulatory system.  This dialogue helps us acquire new skills and capabilities, which help us do our jobs better and allow us to keep pace with changes in the constantly evolving field of biotechnology.

Biosafety Clearing House

The Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) is an Internet-based tool that allows users to search domestic and international biosafety information. In addition to providing public access to biosafety information, it allows countries to exchange scientific, technical, environmental and legislative information about living modified organisms (LMOs) produced through modern biotechnology.

Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC)

High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology (HLPDAB)

Created in 2001, the High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology works to enhance communication and technical exchange among senior government officials on policy issues related to biotechnology. The HLPDAB reports directly to the APEC's Senior Officials.

Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group (ATCWG)

The Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group (ATCWG) continuously develops a cooperative scheme in the field of agricultural technology in the APEC region. This scheme is designed to improve the economic development and social welfare of APEC Member Economies by improving agricultural cooperation and capacity building.

Research, Development and Extension of Agricultural Biotechnology (RDEAB)

As a sub-group of the Agricultural Technology Cooperation Working Group (ATCWG) the Research, Development and Extension of Agricultural Biotechnology (RDEAB) group currently focuses on developing transparent, science-based approaches for risk assessment and management, fostering technical cooperation, encouraging effective communication, transparency and information exchange and building capacity.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

OECD has been working on biotechnology-related topics for over 25 years. These include scientific, industrial, health and agricultural applications.