Thank you for the opportunity to participate today in your study on innovation and competitiveness.
I am a fifth-generation dairy farmer near Brantford, Ontario, and my son is just coming on board to be the sixth generation. We have been cow cockies for a very long time.
Dairy farmers have long recognized that research and innovation drives efficiency, gains, and profit. The stability offered by a strong supply management program has allowed dairy farmers to reinvest in their industry on their farms through competitive and comprehensive research programs. Management practices, better technology, and better-quality products for consumers are always important.
Farmers, processors, and governments have worked together to improve and strengthen supply management and increase the diversity of dairy products offered to Canadians. There are more than 1,000 cheeses offered in Canada, various butters, milk with various fat contents—19, to be exact—DHA milk, yogourts, and many other products.
Dairy research is vitally important to it. You'll find inside your package a brochure that lists all our research, what we consider to be some of the most important things we have worked on in the past number of years. Take a look at it sometime at your leisure.
Last month, Dairy Farmers of Canada welcomed the government's announcement to invest close to $945,000 under the agri-marketing program for dairy cattle traceability and to support an integrated on-farm research system called the proAction initiative. Also in your package you'll find a brochure that talks about proAction and what we're doing on farm with it.
These are all financed by dairy farmers as well as yourselves, trying to not only do what we're supposed to do, but also be able to improve it afterwards. Consumers nowadays want to be reassured that this is what happens.
Dairy farmers live and work on their farms every day, and so the environment is vitally important to us.
ProAction provides to us the best management practice, built on sound science derived from strategic and targeted investments in research. We innovate to make the best quality of milk possible. Our Canadian quality milk program is an on-farm food safety program designed to help farmers prevent, monitor, and reduce food safety risks on their farm. This program is based on the sound science that is designed to help farmers implement best management practices and keep records daily to monitor critical areas of food safety. One hundred per cent of our farms will be registered on CQM by the fall of 2015.
Forty years of investing in genetics has made our Canadian-bred cows renowned globally. We're producing more milk today with far fewer cows. In 1970, Canadian cows produced an average of 3,400 litres of milk. In 2012 this had increased to 8,400 litres of milk, or 143%. Demand for our cattle, embryos, and dairy cattle semen is strong worldwide. In December 2013, announced that Vietnam's largest dairy wants to buy 10,000 additional Canadian dairy cattle valued at $20 million to the Canadian dairy farms.
DFC's yearly investment in research is $1.7 million. Provincial investments in Ontario and Quebec alone double that number. Since 2010, Dairy Farmers of Canada has partnered with the federal government under the agri-science clusters initiative to create the dairy research cluster with projects that address on-farm sustainability, animal health and welfare, genetics, human health, and nutrition.
By the end of 2018, investments in dairy innovation by government and industry will amount to close to $30 million. That will be 71 research projects executed in 23 research institutions across this country. They will involve more than 200 research professionals and training for close to 300 students, our next generation of scientific innovators. These young professionals are being trained for jobs that currently exist and need to be filled with people from the agricultural sector.
We see this as a sign of optimism for the dairy industry. In 2010 the agrifood sector directly provided one in eight Canadian jobs. In Ontario there are more job openings than graduates to fill them. Three jobs are waiting for every agricultural graduate.
Science and innovation needs infrastructure, barns, equipment, land, and other facilities to test new products and to make our animals more comfortable or plant new forages and crop varieties for better feed.
Dairy Farmers of Canada recognizes and appreciates the investments made by the federal government in state-of-the-art dairy research facilities in, for example, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. Industry too is taking these investments seriously. In Ontario we're proud to say that we're investing in the construction of a new state-of-the-art dairy facility in Elora, Ontario, with the University of Guelph and with multiple partners from government, processing, and other businesses within the dairy chain.
We also invest in projects to provide best practices to reduce the impact on the environment and improve the sustainability and vitality of dairy farms. Best practices reduce the carbon footprint as well as save money on energy. One of our cluster studies found that the carbon and water and land footprints for Canadian milk production are among the lowest in the world. It also identified the areas for improvement on farms to allow us to target our best efforts in a more sustainable way. That's in another one of the handouts.
We are committed to drive innovation in dairy, but we need to keep working on strong partnerships with the federal government, building capacity in our sector, developing our research professionals and students invested and engaged in our industry, and ensuring the delivery of results to farmers for efficiency and profitability.
For dairy farmers, innovating to achieve excellence through such programs as proAction, the dairy research cluster, and Canadian quality milk enables strategic collaboration with our partners—the government, the industry, and some of the best scientists from across the country—to achieve our shared goal.
I'd be happy to entertain any of your questions.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak, and thanks to the committee for your wisdom in conducting this study. Innovation and competitiveness in agriculture are so important to our collective prosperity.
As I understand it, to be competitive requires us to be innovative, so in that manner we'd be rapidly creating and deploying new technologies that keep us ahead. We're blessed in Canada with enormous natural resources, and the societal framework to be competitive. Now we seek to better develop the environment for competitiveness, and in particular the innovation element to that.
Why is all this so important, particularly in agriculture? I'd answer that by saying when you look ahead and see the world population growing to nine billion by 2050, and knowing that we need to feed them all, it's clear that we need to innovate. That said, I'm heartened by the fact that we're a rational species, and perhaps the committee might debate that after, but that's my thought. What we've done so far and what we'll continue to do is to think our way through our challenges. We did it thousands of years ago when agriculture itself was invented. Since then our collective innovation efforts in agriculture have allowed us to feed ourselves.
Now, with the burgeoning world population, globalization of markets, and climate uncertainty, our need for innovation in agriculture has never been greater. We need it to continue to compete and to prosper, and, as I said already, to feed ourselves. Simply said, innovation in agriculture is essential. It's essential for our economy, essential for our country, and essential for us as a species. Like the air we breathe and the water we drink, innovation in agriculture is worthy of public interest and, I'd argue, public investment.
If innovation and competitiveness are inextricably linked, then I'd have to say that if we are better innovators, we'll necessarily be better competitors. With that in mind, and seeing the Conference Board gave us our perennial D in innovation again this year, I'd agree we need to examine our circumstance and see if we can do better. It's really around the innovation element of the competitiveness equation that I'd like to share my experience with the committee.
It's important right at the start to understand the difference between research and innovation. Research is discovery and invention, and we do that well. Innovation is the implementation of those ideas to create new products and processes. It is there we need to do better, because innovation creates value for our economy and value for our society. It's also clear to me that part of being better innovators is ensuring that we apply the same resources to innovation that we apply to research, which doesn't mean that we need to reduce our investments in basic research. What it does mean is that we need to increase our investment in innovation so the two are equal.
With that investment must come a commitment to delivering outcomes, like the lower costs and differentiated high-value products that make us more competitive. Then we can transition from being the assimilators and adapters of the technology of others to being the converters of new knowledge into better products and processes. That then allows us to capture the dual benefits of agriculture, the production and processing of raw materials, and the creation of the genetics, the software, the traits, and the new markets that help us compete. After all, the technology base for our agriculture can create high-value jobs, high-value technology exports, and so that, along with all the crops we produce, is what we must also achieve.
I represent the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. We're new and we work in horticulture—fruits, vegetables, flowers, trees, plants. Horticulture is about healthy eating and positive lifestyles. The farm gate is worth over $5 billion to the Canadian economy. We are a purpose-built innovation organization, an example of the new investment I just mentioned. Of course, the Government of Canada has invested a lot in Vineland, and we appreciate their confidence.
As an organization, though, we aspire to deliver real results, and that means acres in the field and shelf space in the grocery store. We are one of over 160,000 not-for-profit organizations in the country, and that means we're stakeholder focused: we exist to support innovation in the horticulture industry, and their prosperity is our measure of success.
Setting direction and priorities is a shared responsibility. We bring the science and what's possible, and industry brings its needs and new opportunities.
All of our projects are built to deliver real results. In order to do that, they need to have three parts. The first part is a validated consumer or client need that really creates impact. The second is great science, and great science partners. The third is business partners who can deliver the technology to the marketplace.
After all, we're an innovation organization. We're not a manufacturer; we're not a seed company; we're not a grocery retail store; so it's critical to have all three of those elements in place in each project. When you do, your probability of delivering the innovation and being successful are much higher. After all, the process is uncertain, and you want to set the odds in your favour.
Partnering is particularly significant because it builds the clusters that are so important to innovation. Those clusters are literally the place, and that's a virtual or physical place, where organizations can compete and collaborate and innovate.
We have over 160 partners, and that includes grower organizations, businesses, governments, universities, and it is the conversation between science and stakeholders that leads to innovation. The intersection between those two different cultures breeds better ideas and creates context for our work. An example of that work is the cost of production in horticulture, which we took on about three years ago. It's very high and its largely because of labour issues.
We have programs that address the labour supply problem, but the labour cost problem remains. The solution really is automation. We need to automate horticulture processes, as the harvesting of grain crops was automated by the combine back in 1880. The innovation is to lever Ontario's automation industry into horticulture and create robots that plant, harvest, and package crops in a way that best fits our industry and our production systems. This we have done.
With new models and new approaches, and actually setting out to build them so you have to do it, innovation can become Canada's competitive advantage, and it will be innovation that sustains our efforts in the long race that competitiveness is.
With that, Mr. Chair, I'll end my words.
Thank you very much.
Gentlemen, thank you for coming.
My first question will be for you, Mr. Emmott, about the dairy industry.
I read in the brochure that you sent, on page 3, “Examples of Innovation in Dairy”, and you mentioned the thousands of cheeses that are developed and the yogourt varieties.
As you're well aware, there is a European trade agreement coming up, and your industry is going to be probably one of the hardest hit with this agreement. You're been informed that the federal government is supposed to offer assistance to help you get through this, because there will be thousands of tonnes of cheese coming in.
As part of that innovation, what would you be looking for? First of all, we have no knowledge that any money has been announced, so I'm asking you first whether any has been announced. What would you be looking for? If you had the money and the tools at your disposal, what would you be doing in innovation to help you adjust to the European...I don't know whether you call it the shock, but to what is going to happen with your industry?
Thank you very much. Hopefully that happens and you guys can adjust to it and increase your production.
Mr. Brandle, it's good to see you. I had the pleasure last year of visiting your research station. I think every person in this committee and most Canadians should visit it. It's amazing what you do and the research you're doing there. I walked right through your facilities: the greenhouse, the vegetables, the orchards, and even the nursery crops. You do a lot of work on that.
After our tour, we had a meeting with some of your group. One of the key things that came up was funding. It is federal research.... I think what we realized is that you're a very key partner for southern Ontario for development of technology, and you have stated that.
There was a concern about the funding for your facilities—in the past, it has been declining, but also about the future. The demands are going to be greater for us to compete with the world, I guess, because it's what we're selling to besides Canadians.
Can you give us a snapshot about what you're facing in those terms? How has the federal funding been over the last few years? What is it now, and what is it going to be? How are you adjusting, and where does it all sit with you?
Thank you very much. Your time is up.
We are going to take around five minutes off the end of the next round, so I'm going to take a chairman's privilege and ask a short question. This one may go to, I think, Mr. Emmott.
I was interested because I was in dairy. It just astounds me, the increase in production. As we know, genetics doesn't just increase the production, because you have to build the body around that. When we're talking about the research—and this may be a question for Semex when the time comes, also—I'm wondering about the time for and the significance of developing those genetic upgrades, not only for milk production, but there's feet and legs and all those things that go with it. I might just save that for Semex.
You mentioned CETA. A question was asked about whether there is funding in place. I think, clearly, the agreement talks about.... That follows, as you mentioned, the five to seven, or ten years after....
I'm interested in getting a bit of a handle on the amount of dollars that have been going into the research that would actually turn into the innovation part. I like the definition Jim gave us for clarity of understanding. Has that changed? Now it is not just about the European market. I think, Bill, what it is about is that this research and innovation part—particularly now the research—is the relationship with the processors, as the part of that cluster to develop the research. What is happening with the amount of dollars that would be going into that, and with being able to develop the Canadian cheeses that would meet the satisfaction of what we continually talk about, our domestic market and the local market, which is clearly a Canadian market? How is that working to come together? Do you have any of those numbers of potential increase in the budget, as to what has been in the budget for that type of research?
Mr. Chair, thank you in particular for inviting Semex to appear before the committee.
We have three specific recommendations from Semex to bring to the committee, but before turning to them, I'd like to first explain what Semex is and then talk about the environment within which Semex is working in terms of research and innovation.
The Semex Alliance was created about 30 years ago to market Canadian dairy genetics. It is owned by three organizations, le Centre d'insémination artificielle du Québec, Eastgen in Ontario, and Westgen, which is based in British Columbia.
Semex markets dairy and beef genetics in more than 100 different countries. It's mostly bull semen and embryos. We have been quite successful. Our market share outside of Canada has been increasing in recent years. We have about 70% in Canada and 20% worldwide.
We benefit from the fact that Canada has a very good reputation in livestock genetics throughout the world. Besides export, I should mention too that genetic improvement is a key for the dairy industry, because it accounts for 60% to 70% of productivity gains over the long term. Genetic improvement is slow, but it has a huge impact on our industry.
Semex relies a lot on research and innovation. We invest in research in particular for genomics, genomic evaluation methods, resistance to disease, and reproductive technologies. I've provided in the brief a few examples of success stories for the research that we've undertaken. In particular, we have been one of the pioneers in the application of genomics in dairy cattle.
We invest in research directly or we invest through the Canadian Dairy Network, which is a consortium of organizations that are interested in dairy cattle genetic improvement. Then we fund some NSERC projects, NSERC being the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. We also support positions in universities.
For us, research is essential, because without it, I don't think we could keep ahead of the competition. We have research partners both in Canada and outside of Canada, but for this presentation I would like to talk about our Canadian partners, which are primarily governments and universities.
In terms of government, there is very little left in the research branch of Agriculture Canada in this crucial area of livestock genetics and genomics. The branch considerably reduced its involvement in livestock genomics over the last 20 years, particularly in 1994 and 1995 but also since then, with the expectation that the Canadian universities would pick up the slack.
Last year, in fact, the research branch cut the positions of two scientists working with the industry, including one scientist who had just received a prestigious international award. So there is relatively little left in the research branch in our field.
On their side, Canadian universities have been in a financial bind, apart from a few exceptions. In fact, we are facing a brain drain in the area of livestock genetics research in Canada, contrary to what we had maybe 15 years ago, when scientists came from all over the world to universities such as Guelph, for example.
I have given some specific examples of this brain drain that has appeared in the last five years. As a result, the ability of the industry to do research in Canada has dwindled. This is a problem for two reasons. In order to participate in international research consortia you need to bring something to the table. The other reason is that it's difficult to have an edge on the competition with something unique, if the only research you do is in cooperation with other countries. You want to have something different in order to do well in the market. So we need some domestic research capability.
On the positive side, the industry has been able to take advantage through Dairy Farmers of Canada—you just heard Bill Emmott—of the dairy cluster research program, which is part of the Growing Forward 2 initiative. The program will allow the industry to initiate research for new traits in genomics for the next four years, but it's still very far from what is required to compete with our main competitors in the U.S. and Europe. That's where our main competitors are located, and the lack of scientists available in Canada to carry out these projects is really a big handicap.
Finally, Genome Canada, to their credit, contributed in 2004 to the international bovine sequencing project, and that was a very good decision; however, since then they have supported very little in dairy cattle genomics. We are concerned by this lack of support, because we think that in the longer term it will reduce our capability to innovate.
We have three recommendations to make to the committee.
The first one is that Genome Canada should start again to invest in dairy cattle genomics research in cooperation with the industry, particularly in research for novel traits, such as feed efficiency, greenhouse gases, cow health, and properties of milk for human health. All of these areas are very important for the future of the industry, and there is a great potential to make progress in them with genomics.
The second recommendation is that there should be some joint planning between industry, universities, and governments to ensure long-term funding of livestock genetics and genomics research and to stop, stem, or reduce the existing brain drain.
Finally, in our opinion, the federal government, in cooperation with provinces, should put as much emphasis on programs to help attract, hire, and retain high-quality personnel for research and teaching in Canadian universities as it does on programs to support bricks and mortar in those universities. Although there is nothing particularly wrong with doing that, it would be useful to have a better balance. Perhaps university access to Canada Foundation for Innovation grants, for example, could be tied to a university's maintaining or increasing the research staff necessary to take full advantage of the new infrastructure. This doesn't necessarily mean more money, just a better balance between infrastructure and grey matter.
I thank the committee for having me here as a witness. I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Good afternoon. I'm Peter Watts with Pulse Canada, the national association representing the growers, traders, and processors of pulses, that is, peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas in Canada.
Thank you for inviting Pulse Canada to speak to the committee today. I would be happy to answer any questions you have after my presentation.
It's not an overstatement to say that the ingredient, food processing, and food retailing sectors in Canada, in North America, and in fact globally are undergoing a revolution of remarkable proportions. For many years the global food manufacturing sector relied heavily on tried and true products that often contained high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. These foods have been central to the epidemic of such diet- and lifestyle-related illnesses as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Today nearly 10% of Canadians have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and that is true for many countries around the world. In addition to health issues, the environmental “food print” of the food sector has come under scrutiny. Together, health and environmental issues have pushed governments, the health industry, food manufacturers, NGOs, and consumers to look carefully at the foods that are offered to consumers on grocery store shelves and at food production systems.
While governments have responded with important legislation aimed at tackling some of these issues, such as the ban on trans fats, today's consumers want to know exactly what's in their food and how it's made. They read nutrition labels like never before. Even cornstarch that is modified raises eyebrows these days. When they see something they don't like, consumers now have the power, through social media, food bloggers, or online petitions, to force companies to pay attention.
Today's consumers are opting for foods that are healthier, such as those with higher levels of protein and fibre, or products with the absence of something perceived as negative, such as gluten- or GMO-free foods. In addition to all of this, consumers want foods that are deemed sustainable, fair trade, and ethically produced. All of these consumer demands have forced the hands of the food sector to introduce healthier and more sustainable foods, either in the form of new products or reformulated versions of the existing foods.
The challenges for the food sector are many, and eventually these challenges make their way back along the food value chain to the production and primary processing levels. This is where Canada faces some of the biggest challenges and also opportunities. The agrifood sector in Canada has to respond to the wants and needs of its customers, including food companies and consumers, if it wants to stay competitive.
In the pulse industry over the last eight years we have been focused on addressing these opportunities and needs through knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination. Under knowledge creation, we are focused on consumer drivers of nutrition, health, and sustainability, as well as the needs of the food manufacturing sector to better understand processing and utilization techniques and technologies. This type of work has been supported by such initiatives as AAFC's agri-innovation and science cluster programs.
In the area of health, with support from AAFC funding, Canada's pulse industry has been investing in human clinical trials that have shown the benefits of pulse consumption in relation to cholesterol lowering, satiety, and blood sugar control. Pending further research, the industry will move to secure health claims in these areas in Canada as well as in the U.S. and Europe. Official health claims are highly sought after by food companies, so this work is creating value and important market opportunities for pulses.
In the area of processing and utilization, the pulse industry just completed a four-year research program at the Canadian International Grains Institute in Winnipeg, funded collaboratively with AAFC, where researchers looked at how to mill pulses into flours that will be functional in food applications. The addition of pulse flours will help companies boost the nutritional profile of foods and reduce their environmental footprint, paving the way for product labelling claims.
Through another initiative at Pulse Canada, we are leading a consortium of stakeholders in the Canadian agricultural sector that is developing a sustainability calculator tool to allow farmers to measure and quantify their environmental footprint in relation to carbon emissions, energy use, soil quality, and soil-use efficiency.
Once new knowledge has been created, to have value it has to be disseminated to such end users as food companies, retailers, and consumers. For these initiatives, the pulse industry has relied on matching support provided by AAFC under the agri-marketing program and other programs such as agri-flex.
Outreach to the food industry through conferences, symposia, face-to-face meetings, technical journals, and print, web, and social media have allowed the pulse industry to communicate and promote the findings established through our research and development initiatives.
How do we know we're on the right track? We have some good evidence. Today, major food companies, from General Mills and Kraft to Campbell's, President's Choice, PepsiCo, and others, have dedicated teams focused on developing foods with pulse ingredients. If you ask these companies if they've heard of Pulse Canada, my guess is that they will invariably tell you yes.
In summary, Canada's pulse industry has benefited enormously over the years from programs such as AIP, the science clusters, agri-flex, and AMP, all of which have provided support to allow the industry to develop and disseminate knowledge, creating value for the sector, particularly in higher-risk pathfinding areas where producers in the primary processing industry are not comfortable investing, or at least not on their own.
This support is coupled with a world-class research infrastructure in Canada, where scientists are looking at new ways to process Canadian agricultural products that meet the wants and needs of food companies and consumers. With these programs and this infrastructure, Canada has the resources and expertise to be the world's preferred supplier of agrifood products.
Support for R and D through AAFC, including programs such as the AIP, the science clusters, and the agricultural marketing program provide much-needed support for research, innovation, and marketing for Canada's agrifood sector. Governments in Canada should ensure these programs continue to be well funded, as they allow the Canadian agriculture sector to innovate, to adapt new techniques and technologies, and ultimately to be competitive in an increasingly complex and demanding global food marketplace.
Two years ago, Galen Weston called pulses the “food of the future”. At Pulse Canada, we firmly believe this is true, and with the Canadian government as our partner, Canada's pulse industry can move confidently into the future to create value and profitability for our sector.
That's a great question.
In 2013 China was the largest buyer of Canadian peas for the first time in history, up until now. Of course India has been our largest export market for pulse crops, taking primarily peas and lentils, with typically between a million and a million and a half tonnes a year. That's about a quarter of our total production in Canada. It's a huge market in India.
However, I think what you're alluding to is the growth and opportunity in the east Asian market, China in particular. We've seen massive growth and exports of peas to China. Your question about how we can tap into that market in the future is a great one.
I'll give you one example from Saskatchewan, the biggest pulse-growing province. The Saskatchewan Pulse Growers recently invested nearly half a million dollars in a research project in China to try to incorporate pulse ingredients into such staple Chinese food products as steamed buns, noodles, and baked biscuits.
That's how we have to adapt to the new and changing marketplace. We have to invest in R and D to help Canadian processors sell into these markets and also work with the importing markets to help them use these ingredients in their food products.
To begin with, I'm glad to hear that you're a big supporter of the pulse industry. That's great to hear.
Canadians get less than 2% of their caloric intake from pulses, compared with around 20% from cereals and 20% from meat and dairy products. We have a long way to go in terms of increasing pulse consumption here in Canada.
As some of you may know, in 2013, we had a record grain crop in Canada, and that included a record pulse crop. We had six million tonnes of pulses grown in Canada, nearly four million tonnes of peas, and two million tonnes of lentils. We have lots of pulses. Farmers like to grow them because they work well on a rotation and they are getting good prices for them these days.
What's hot is that more and more companies are looking to pulses, as a source of protein in particular, as well as fibre. As you probably know, pulses are about 25% protein, which is two or three times that of other cereals like rice, corn or wheat. Many companies are looking to pulses as a source of protein, and that's why companies like General Mills are incorporating pulses into their food products.
There is a new company in the U.S. called Hampton Creek that's making egg substitutes out of vegetable proteins. Their primary ingredient is pea protein. That's going to be a very small substitute for the one billion eggs they use every day in the U.S., but it's a very important market opportunity for Canadian pulse producers. It's that type of research and innovation.
Our Canadian producers and processors need to be able to meet the demands of these up and coming innovative companies that are emerging in North America and in Europe, but also in countries like China and India where consumers are very concerned about health. We talk about it in North America, but if you go to China, consumers are very knowledgeable about the importance of the link between diet and health and wellness. I think we have a great opportunity, not only in North America to expand pulse consumption, but also in markets like China.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to go back to what Mr. Hoback was talking about. There does seem to be this interpretation as far as research dollars are concerned. As we heard with the previous panel, they feel that what we are doing is exporting our knowledge. They don't look at it as though one of our researchers going somewhere else is a drain, because we have this reciprocity, and they're feeling that they're keeping the very best here.
I guess that's part of it. If we can manage to get this relationship that works properly between the clusters and the other dollars that are going into various areas, that's the way to go with it. I certainly appreciate that.
There's another area that I would like to talk a bit about. Perhaps, Mr. Watts, I'll go with you as a pulse producer.
I'm quite aware of the advantages we have as far as having pulses in our rotation is concerned. One of the things you mentioned, though, was the concept of the food processors and how they're going through this revolution of epic proportions in regard to some of the concerns we have on health, the new diets, and those sorts of things, as you mentioned, and how there are great advantages.
I don't deny the advantages, and I respect that, but when we talk about making sure that we let the consumers kind of tie in and we base everything on that, I relate it back to some of the issues that I see there. Of course, when we have situations where fruit, vegetables, and meat are considered to be more of a GMO concern than canola is—and there are studies that have shown this—we start to get the idea that perhaps there's a lot more being said about some of the things we produce than is actually accurate. So we do have the concerns that are associated with it.
I'm also a wheat producer, and you hear people suggest that you need to have these gluten-free diets and all of those things. If you have a gluten intolerance, then I agree, but some people are looking at fad diets, and they're taking some bad advice, in my estimation, in order to work this through.
Also, I'm afraid that when we look at it entirely from that perspective, we might find when we are making trade deals throughout the world that some of these things can also turn on it. Whether it's GMOs or blackleg in canola or rapeseed, sometimes these things are also used against us. I just want to make sure that as we go out and market to the nine billion people that are going to be in this world, we make sure the proper balance is there.
Could you perhaps comment on some of those issues?