I want to welcome everyone to this meeting of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are beginning the study on the advancements of technology and research in the agriculture industry that can support Canadian exports.
Today, from the Canada Grains Council, we have Ms. Krista Thomas. Welcome to our committee.
Krista Thomas is the director of plant innovation.
From CropLife Canada, we are hearing from Pierre Petelle, its president and chief executive officer.
Welcome to this meeting, Mr. Petelle.
We also have two substitutes on the committee, including Raj Saini.
We also have Mr. Larry Bagnell replacing Mr. Francis Drouin.
We'll start with our seven-minute opening statement.
Mr. Petelle, you can begin if you like.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to members of the committee.
On behalf of CropLife Canada and its member companies, we appreciate the invitation to be here today.
CropLife Canada is the trade association that represents the manufacturers, developers, and distributors of plant science innovations. These are the pest control product tools, and the products of modern plant breeding that are used in agriculture, urban, and other public settings.
Our mission is to enable the plant science industry to bring the benefits of its technologies to farmers and the public. Those benefits manifest themselves in many different forms, including driving agricultural exports, creating high-skills jobs, strengthening the Canadian economy, increasing tax revenues for governments, improving environmental sustainability, and increasing access to safe and affordable food for Canadians.
We're pleased to see the committee undertake this study as agriculture is often left behind when discussion of technology and research takes place. The truth is that agriculture and agrifood are sectors that have been revolutionized by technological change.
If we take a look at history, Canadian farmers have always been among the early adopters of technology. This has helped make them leaders in producing safe, affordable, and sustainable food for Canadian consumers and the world.
Technologies like pest control products and biotech crops have played an important role in sustainability, increasing agricultural production in Canada while maintaining the high safety standards we have established in this country. These advancements have resulted in economic gains, environmental protection, and cost savings for consumers. For example, plant science technology alone contributes $9.8 billion to Canada's GDP every year. These technologies have also allowed farmers to be more productive on existing farmland. In fact, without pesticides and biotech crops, Canadian farmers would need to cultivate 50% more land than we do today. This would be devastating for Canada's biodiversity.
Consumers also benefit from these technologies. Without plant science technologies, Canadians would pay about 55% more for food on average. That's roughly $4,400 a year per family. Canadians currently enjoy better access to a nutritious and affordable food supply than at any other time in our history, thanks to modern agriculture.
This renewed focus on agriculture and technology is timely in light of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth's report to the government and the work under way by the Economic Strategy Table on Agri-Food.
While we still await final reports from the economic strategy tables, the work of the Barton report is done, and its recommendations are clear.
The Barton report highlights the agrifood sector as an important area of potential growth for the Canadian economy, and says that innovation is the key to unleashing agriculture's potential. No surprise there. Canada is, however, not the only country pursuing innovations in agriculture. As others pursue advancements in data analytics, automation, and genomics, Canada must act quickly or risk being left behind.
The Barton report identifies several barriers to success for Canada's agrifood sector, one of which is increasing productivity. Agriculture must continue to adopt new technologies and innovation, such as pest control products and products of modern plant breeding to increase productivity.
One of the other key barriers to success identified in the report is expanding trade. Canada needs preferential trade agreements in high potential markets, with China being at the top of that list. Without access to these markets, Canada cannot successfully leverage its major competitive advantages, namely its large agricultural land base, access to natural resources, and innovative farmers.
However, access to markets cannot be limited to just removing tariffs. We need ongoing and enhanced engagement on non-tariff barriers that countries readily utilize. One only needs to look at the issue of durum wheat into Italy to recognize a tariff removal is not always enough to secure ensured access to markets.
Canada is respected around the world for its strong science-based regulatory system when it comes to agriculture and food. This commitment to science-based regulation must continue, and we must seize opportunities to improve the efficiencies and streamline regulatory approaches where possible to drive greater innovation and competitiveness.
We believe there are many opportunities when it comes to products of modern plant breeding and pesticides to modernize and streamline these approaches, to drive greater innovation while still protecting human health and the environment.
We would very much like to discuss that with the committee today. Canada's regulators cannot be divorced from the broader Government of Canada objectives to innovate our way to $75 billion in agrifood exports. They need the help of elected officials like you to help deflect the inevitable criticism from our detractors at the slightest mention of economic considerations.
We believe that government policy on building agriculture exports and promoting innovation should help build on our accomplishments to date, and recognize how far we've come. Technological advancements, such as those in crop protection and plant biotech, have helped create an agriculture production system that is more sustainable than it has ever been before.
Canadian farmers' adoption of technology has also driven greater food production than ever before, which has spurred economic growth throughout the country. It has also helped ensure that Canadians pay some of the lowest food prices and have access to one of the safest food supplies in the world.
Canada can, and should, be a leader when it comes to feeding a growing world population and competing in markets around the globe. We need the right policies at home, however, to make that happen.
I thank you for your time and look forward to any questions that the committee might have.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's a pleasure to have an opportunity to appear before you this afternoon.
My name is Krista Thomas. I'm the director of plant innovation with the Canada Grains Council. The Canada Grains Council is Canada's national umbrella organization for the grains sector, with over 30 members representing seed and life science companies and associations, grower groups, commodity organizations, and grain companies. Accordingly, we work on issues that are important to the entire value chain and that impact the grains, cereals, oilseeds, and pulses grown in Canada.
One of the Grains Council's most important areas of focus today is seed innovation. You might ask exactly what is meant by seed innovation. Does that refer to biotechnology, or GMOs? Yes, it absolutely does, but I'm also referring to the very latest, cutting-edge tools to be added to the plant breeders' tool box, those based on gene editing systems such as CRISPR-Cas9.
The CGC has two main objectives for seed innovation. The first is to create a domestic environment that drives innovation in the crop sector, which means having pre-market regulatory programs that are predictable and clear and that do not inadvertently prevent or delay innovators from acting on new opportunities. Second, with up to 90% of our commodities destined for international markets, Canada needs to think and work collectively with other countries on regulation, because failing to do so will leave a patchwork of divergent regulatory approaches leading to trade disruptions and an unpredictable environment for innovators, growers, and exporters.
This is a very timely discussion to be having today. Canada has set a very ambitious target of reaching $75 billion in agrifood exports annually by 2025. Grains contribute over $22 billion of these exports today. That's more than any other agrifood sector. Accordingly, we want to do our fair share or more to help us reach that target. This means activities such as working closely with the Government of Canada to address non-tariff trade barriers such as maximum residue limits for crop protection products, as Pierre mentioned, but our members also believe that seed innovation will play a driving role.
In particular, gene editing can speed up the development of new crop varieties. For some crops, this means a variety development in two years instead of 10. In addition, many products of gene editing might not fall under the same complex global regulatory and trading environment that we have today for products of biotechnology or GMOs. This opens up more opportunities for innovation in small or orphan crops and a wider range of small or medium-sized companies.
The types of benefits possible through seed innovation include agronomic traits that are certainly beneficial to the grains sector. Traits such as higher yield or better weed control, greater disease resistance, or stress tolerance allow growers to produce more every year while using the same or smaller amounts of land and inputs. However, seed innovation is also delivering more consumer-focused traits to help meet the demand for healthier food, such as higher fibre flour or oil with healthier fat profiles. These, too, offer opportunities for grain growers and for value-added products.
Lastly, we are also seeing innovation in areas that will help farms be more environmentally sustainable, adapt to climate change, or help to reduce food waste.
With all these benefits available, with Canada's strengths in agricultural research, and with our leadership role and success in biotechnology, Canada should also be among the global leaders in gene editing systems for crop development, but today we are worried that Canada is at risk of falling behind our key trading partners and that Canada might lose its share of investment in new crop innovation.
We're very encouraged by the efforts of the economic strategy tables and superclusters to encourage innovation in Canada and by the acknowledgement in budget 2018 of the role that regulatory programs play, either in supporting or hindering innovation. However, our members have identified a pressing need to update and provide greater clarity and predictability around Canada's pre-market programs for regulating products of seed innovation. This, in turn, will better support Canada to engage our trading partners, and align internationally—where possible—in support of a predictable global trading environment.
Thank you for the invitation to be here today. I look forward to your questions.
I can start, and then Krista can add.
Canada is not the biggest market, obviously. When we look at crop protection, for example, we're about 3% to 4% of the global market. Even though Canada exports a lot—we're a big agricultural producer relative to other parts of the world—we're not that big, so we need to make sure that we're at the very forefront in speed to market, and in our regulatory process. All those things need to be at least as good as the bigger markets.
To answer your question directly, the U.S. would probably fit that bill. At least on the plant breeding side, they have made very clear statements about the technology that Krista was referring to. They've said very publicly that these will be treated differently from biotech crops. The regulatory process won't be the same, it won't be as heavy, and it won't be as burdensome. Our interpretation of that is, therefore, they'll be faster to market and have much more predictability in getting those approved. That's where we talk about being left behind.
If that's the case in the U.S., which is a much bigger market, and they start to get approvals of some of these new technologies while we're still wondering how to deal with them here in our system, we will definitely be left behind.
Well, you're going to hear directly from one of our members after us. From our perspective, I think it's not so much that it's easier, it's that it's predictable.
Canada's system is world renowned. I want to make it clear, both on the pesticides and plant biotechnology, that it has served us very well. Canada is viewed very highly all around the world in terms of its decisions.
What we want to make sure, though, is that we continue to adapt. Especially on the plant biotech, we have brand new technology here that doesn't necessarily fit that cookie-cutter approach. We need some flexibility, and we need recognition from the regulators that they have a role to play in innovation. Yes, they're to protect health and environment. Of course, that's their primary mandate. But if we all want to strive to get Canadian agriculture exports to a bold new number, all of those technologies are going through the regulator first. Whether it's that seed, or what needs to be put on the seed to protect it, it all has to go through those regulators. If they are completely divorced from this broader goal of innovation and growing agriculture, they could easily stifle that.
Yes, I think that's a critical distinction, because on the plant biotech side, that has served us well. It wasn't the fact that it was a GMO that it needed to be regulated, it was the fact that you created a herbicide-tolerant crop. That was the novelty of what was being created, and that's why we needed to regulate it, so it has served us well in the whole GMO debate and discussion.
Now that we get into this more refined approach, it raises some questions in terms that you could have even that one-letter change creating a very novel crop, but does it still need to have the same A to Z regulatory review with the same data requirements?
That's the nuance, and that's the discussion we're having with officials at CFIA, that we think there are different tiers of approaches to take with these gene-edited products, everything from a full assessment, just like a biotech crop with foreign DNA, right down to either no regulation at all to different layers in between. I think even that would be a great improvement, because then we would know what those tiers are, and again, it would provide that predictability, and we would know approximately the time required for each of those levels.
Those are the more detailed discussions that we are having with officials and that we would like support on.
I'm going to answer that a little bit both ways.
For us, biotechnology is still one that is going to be used for the foreseeable future. It's not as if gene editing is coming in and replacing that completely, so we still need that predictability and fair treatment of the biotech crops.
We think we need a slightly more nimble system that can address some of these new technologies like gene editing, and I think that can be done within the current structure. That doesn't require even regulatory change, or certainly not legislative change, to make those changes that we're asking for. We think the system needs to be able to handle both of those.
In terms of where the companies are investing, it probably varies. You'll be able to ask one of them shortly, the biggest one. As Krista mentioned, it's also the small, private breeders, too, who are able to use these technologies as a much less expensive process and also get in the game, so they need that predictability, and they need to bring those innovations.
I thank the witnesses for joining us today.
I find some of the information on your website interesting. I would like to share one piece of information in particular with my parliamentary colleagues.
Mr. Petelle, while many sectors are contributing to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, your industry is using plant science innovations to reduce those emissions by nearly 30 million tonnes per year. Well done! That's really great. In addition, your industry contributes to the creation of nearly 131,000 jobs in Canada. Congratulations. Those statistics are very noteworthy.
I would like to briefly talk to you about research and development. In Canada, resources are becoming increasingly limited. The number of emerging countries is increasing, and many countries want to take advantage of the situation.
We talked about innovation earlier. What do you think about public investments in research and development to help your industry? Are they sufficient? Would you like to see more in terms of investments? Could that approach ensure better productivity and competitiveness of your industry?
Mr. Petelle, you can start, and Ms. Thomas could also comment if there is time.
I will then yield the floor to my colleague Mr. Saini.
Thank you for your question.
I think from our perspective on public versus private research, this is always an area that raises questions, public research dollars on what we call "base agricultural research", the commercial benefit that is difficult to quantify. We see a tremendous role for government and academia there.
On taking those basic things to the commercial step, we think there are a lot of places where that partnership can exist between government and industry. We've seen examples of that in the past, and certainly our members are open to different models of R and D in Canada.
I think from our perspective, our members are poised; they're undergoing tremendous change right now in our industry. Mergers and acquisitions are going on almost monthly it seems. On the commitment to R and D, the percentage of total sales our industry puts back into R and D is among the highest of any other sector; close to 11% of total sales go back into R and D. That's almost in lockstep with the pharmaceutical industry. Certainly the members are poised to invest, and continue to do that R and D. As I said, they need the environment in which to do so. I think of some of the recent announcements, such as the supercluster for example. While we're not directly involved, some of our members are, and are very welcoming to that protein supercluster announced in Saskatchewan.
Thank you to the witnesses again for your information.
It was certainly interesting that in many of your answers a couple of the things that came up over and over again were predictability and timeliness.
I think, Mr. Petelle, you said that those are two of the key issues we're trying to address here. Certainly, those are a couple of the things that many of the witnesses we've had here at this committee table for various studies—whether on climate change or water and soil conservation—have brought up time and again. We met with the University of Saskatchewan crop development centre. It's the same thing. They are developing new seed varieties and crop varieties. They can't get them to market because of the process.
I know this may be a hard question to answer, but I think the job of all of us here is to come up with a list of recommendations we can provide to the government to ensure that our stakeholders can be successful and can access these export markets. As you continue to talk about predictability, Mr. Petelle and Ms. Thomas, can you give me an idea of what predictability would look like? What would be your dream scenario? As part of this study, when we put together a list of recommendations, what can we do to address that question of timeliness and predictability? What would you like to see there?
That's a very good question.
We have a campaign to educate and inform the public about the safety of the technologies that our members produce. We've been working closely with different audiences, the audiences that we consider more influencers rather than consumers directly. Dietitians, agriculture in the classroom, these types of forums allow us to answer questions, and provide information to people who are then asked lots of questions about food and food safety. That's been very useful.
That audience has questions about the technology. They don't necessarily have an angst or a fear coming into it, they just don't know. Once they've asked the questions, we provide information, supplemented by good information and defence from the regulators. It makes for a very compelling case.
In all of our polling that we've done, 5% to 10% of the very vocal detractor community will never change their position, and they probably often write letters to many of you about their views on agriculture. There is also a consistent 30% to 40% in all of our polling who don't have a strong view either way on pesticides, plant breeding, or plant biotechnology. That 30% to 40% of people are the ones who just don't have the information. They're very open to the information. When provided with a few key pieces of information, they quickly move to the “somewhat support” side of the equation.
We have a role to play. We take it seriously, but we feel that government, with its regulators, could also help with that 30% to 40% to inform them. It's not about swaying positions; it's about providing the facts, and letting them make their own decisions.
First of all, I'll apologize for my lack of French.
I'm the executive director of BioFoodTech in Prince Edward Island. I'll talk about that first of all, and then I'll talk about FOODTECH Canada, which is a network of food technology centres.
First of all, BioFoodTech is an organization that provides technical support for the food and bioscience industry in Prince Edward Island regionally and nationally, and it does some international work as well. We're owned by the Province of Prince Edward Island, but we're funded only about 40% by the province, so we do cost recovery work on top of that to balance our budget. The type of work that we do, similar to other food technology centres around the country, is technical support for the food industry. We are scientists, technologists, and engineers working on behalf of industry and with industry on industry-funded projects.
This is in common with many other organizations around the country. I'll take a national perspective and really talk about all of the centres collectively, rather than just BioFoodTech, to help you understand what we have in Canada to support the industry for value-added food product development and technical support.
As you can see, there is a whole range of centres here. Most provinces have at least one centre, some have two centres. The only exception, New Brunswick, does not have a food centre. It has RPC, which is more engineering. British Columbia does not have a food technology centre, but it is in fact working on a new food technology centre at the moment—actually probably more than one.
We're very much similar to each other, but also very different. Many of them are owned by the provincial government, some are private, and some are institutes within universities.
The combined resources, then, of these centres—and this accounts for nine out of the 12 at the moment, as we're waiting for other information to come in—are 309 highly qualified scientists, technologists, and engineers; $220 million in building infrastructure; lots of processing and analytical equipment; and quite a large area of pilot plant. Each year, the centres collectively work with 870 companies, deliver $24 million in industry contracts, introduce 370 new products to market, and hold manufacturing technology workshops.
In terms of the types of services we provide, we're scientists, technologists, and engineers, so what we do is we work as the technical department for many food companies. Most food companies do not have technical people on staff. They don't have scientists or technologists on staff. This certainly accounts for most of the small and medium companies. The larger companies, of course, would, but the smaller ones don't. So we work as their technical department and help them to do product development, and solve problems and find equipment for them, that type of thing.
How do the food technology centres fit into the innovation ecosystem? We are the primary innovators. There was a study done a couple of years ago by KPMG on behalf of the Food Processing Industry Roundtable and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. What they found in their study was this is where the primary innovation is done: it's industry working with the food technology centres, because working together we can provide results and help to the industry in the short term. Our turnaround is two months to two years typically.
The scientific people we have working are “industrial-strength Ph.D.s”, basically Ph.D.s who are not interested in publishing, they're interested in working with the industry and helping to provide solutions to them.
The universities are a very important part of the innovation ecosystem, but their time frame is much longer. You're typically talking about five to 10 years before the results are commercialized. There's more of a priority towards publication, which the food technology centres typically do not do because their work is confidential.
What impedes innovation in Canada? Well, we basically don't have a strong culture of innovation within the value-added food processing industry, and 90% of the companies do not have a relationship with the food technology centres to help them to develop new products. One of the issues caused by that is that there's a huge trade deficit in value-added food products. According to CAPI, it's $8 billion. There are different measures of that, but it's a big number, and it's growing. Part of that is because of the lack of development and the lack of investment in innovation.
We are working every day to try to recruit new companies to come and work with us to develop their technologies, to do workshops and new product development. Our tag line at BioFoodTech is “concept to pilot to market”. What we like is to have companies come to us with ideas before they've developed them very far so that we can help them through the process of figuring out whether their ideas have any potential, and help them through the whole process.
I thank you. That's my opening statement.
Honourable members of the standing committee, it's a pleasure to join you today. Thank you for the opportunity to speak about advancements in our agricultural industry to support Canada's ambitious target of $75 billion in agrifood exports by 2025.
I represent Bayer CropScience. Our company proudly offers an outstanding range of products, including high-value seeds, innovative crop protection solutions based on chemical and biological modes of action, as well as an extensive backup to service modern agriculture.
Capturing our export potential is underpinned by a stable and predictable domestic regulatory system that enables farmers access to these innovative tools and technologies to keep them competitive. Our regulatory system is renowned around the world for its rigorous evaluation process of crop protection products. This global reputation can be weakened when proposed re-evaluation decisions are published or made in Canada with ultra-conservative end points and incomplete data. These decisions can also result in the loss of tools available to our growers, and this will inevitably reduce the productivity, sustainability, and competitiveness of Canadian agriculture. This will make it difficult to reach our export targets.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency's re-evaluation process does not afford an opportunity for registrants or other affected stakeholders to address potential risk concerns prior to the publishing of these proposed re-evaluation decisions. This is unacceptable, as it sends an unclear signal to foreign jurisdictions and can erode public trust both at home and abroad. Furthermore, to increase public trust in our regulatory processes, we would ask the government to allocate resources to improve communication efforts to the general public on how these processes are used in Canada and how these decisions are made by our regulators.
Another key consideration is ensuring that our export markets accept the technologies and innovations that have been approved by Canadian regulators and adopted by our growers. When access to export markets is hindered due to delays in regulatory approvals between jurisdictions, it can deter investment in innovation, restrict the adoption of new technologies, and impede exports. Harmonized international approvals for both biotech traits and other technologies, including the promulgation of maximum residue limits, are necessary to support these technologies. Over the past 20 years there have been too many incidents of non-tariff measures facing Canadian exports, and we believe that Canada can play a larger role in supporting the development of emerging regulatory frameworks in key export markets.
In order to help facilitate this dialogue, we also need to identify areas where our own regulatory system needs improvement, and take bold steps to modernize these processes that we already have in place.
We've heard today that modern plant breeding innovations will allow researchers to precisely add, delete, or replace specific characteristics to better meet the needs of farmers and consumers while protecting the environment. Bayer supports a modern science-based framework and believes the focus of regulation for products of modern plant breeding should be based on the scientific risk assessments within existing legislation. This type of framework helps protect both human health and the environment while enabling fair and predictable regulation of plants derived using these modern innovations. We encourage the government to continue to engage with key export markets to help drive science-based decision-making through regulatory alignment and transparency.
Bayer has a long-standing record of investing in research and development in Canada, made possible by a strong environment for intellectual property protection and by a farming environment that is representative of other parts of the world. We enjoy access to a skilled workforce and to collaboration with leading public and private researchers. Canadian farmers have validated these advancements by readily adopting new technologies as they come to market and placing trust in our innovations.
The government can help enhance innovation by further streamlining internal priorities and processes. Collaboration between departments will eliminate potential areas of duplication, while providing more clarity on reporting requirements. There have been cases in which uncertainties have led to unnecessary delays and have impacted research projects. Furthermore, continued dialogue with other countries is needed to ensure that researchers are able to transfer materials between research sites in different jurisdictions. Taking these steps will help bring new solutions to growers faster.
I would like to end my remarks by sharing an example of the positive impact our investments in research and development have had in Canada. Bayer is the largest provider of canola seed to the Canadian market. Our InVigor brand has contributed significantly to the growth of canola in Canada while improving sustainability and enabling growers to adopt minimum- and zero-tillage practices. Furthermore, we have developed varieties with healthier oil profiles and technologies for pod shatter reduction, assisting in harvest.
As a leader in Canadian agriculture, we are committed to being an active partner in advancing science to meet the needs of Canadian farmers and consumers here at home and abroad.
I look forward to answering your questions. Thank you.
Thank you to our guests for being here this afternoon.
In the last panel we had, there was a discussion about various groups that actually look at moving agriculture backwards. The analogy I presented was that we simply take a look at what happens when they get ahead of industry—I'm from Alberta, and we saw what happened with the oil sands activists—and industry isn't there to stand up for the real scientific aspects that are taking place.
Again, Mr. Thiel, there was a discussion about neonicotinoids, and you spoke about canola. I mean, that's where the beekeepers take the bees, to where the canola is, so the real reasons, and the discussions and concerns we have, are I think critical discussions that need to take place.
I'm just wondering what we are doing in order to ensure that the proper scientific information gets out to the public. The reason I say that—I mean, I am a farmer, but I also come from a rural area—is that I've had people write me letters about how we should get rid of neonicotinoids, because in Ontario and Europe that's what they're doing. I've realized that people don't understand agriculture anymore. I was a teacher as well, so I also know that you're going to teach those things that you know.
Industry has to be challenged with going in and getting the right messages out there. Otherwise, you're going to see these fancy lessons put up from all these activist groups about how farmers are doing evil things to animals and how all of these things are causing problems around the world. It's all complete nonsense. Where is industry standing up to protect the integrity of our Canadian agriculture and agriculture around the world?
I think it's something that is underutilized
Most of the companies we work with are small to medium-sized companies. Most of them tend to work with their own resources, their family resources, and many are not looking to grow significantly.
One of the things we're doing in Prince Edward Island now is working collaboratively with a few different organizations. There are Food Island Partnership, Canada's Smartest Kitchen, and the National Research Council. All of these organizations have a mandate towards improving the food industry and to grow it.
Food Island Partnership, in particular, is taking a leading role in exactly what you've just mentioned. As I say, from our point, it's more the technical support. We're relying on them to coordinate a much broader support for the industry.
So, that's what's being done in P.E.I.
Regionally, ACOA is certainly very involved with discussions, and Food Island Partnership is very much involved with them. Again, to provide that broader range of support to the industry, one of the things we think is key is to identify those companies that are really interested in growing and have the wherewithal, the resources, or access to the resources, as you mentioned, to grow, because that's where we see the largest growth potential being. If a company has 30, 40, or 50 people, something like that, and they want to double the size of the company, that's where, I think, we could have a lot of potential to grow our food processing industry in Canada.
Mr. Thiel, I'll start with you, and because I want to get to Mr. Smith, I want to package just two questions into it.
You made mention in your opening statement that you want to see the elimination of duplication in federal departments. Can you provide the committee with a few concrete examples of where that might exist?
With regard to my second question, Bayer is very much a global player. You have offices, and your reach extends, in many different countries. I previously had a phone call with the Canadian Seed Growers' Association. They mentioned that France and Portugal were two countries that were very forward looking in looking for future opportunities in innovation, seed development, and so on.
Can you provide this committee with any examples of countries we could be looking to as examples of technology and innovation, given that Bayer has such a global reach?
Thank you. Yes, I would like to continue. As well as the fruit-related examples, there's one example I think is very important, because it shows you the unexpected consequences. We've been working for many years on what's called “supercritical fluid extraction”, which is the use of high-pressure carbon dioxide to extract different value-added products from oats. This is with an Alberta company called Ceapro, which is well known. We've developed that technology in collaboration with them.
We've been working in this technology. We've had a local company do lots of modifications to the equipment we've had, and because of that they've developed expertise in manufacturing this equipment. Now they're selling it to the cannabis industry for extraction of cannabinoids. This equipment sells for between $1 million to $2 million apiece. It's a very successful new business for this company. It was unexpected, but it's built on developing that technology around the extraction from food.
I think that for the honey product, and of course for the supercritical extraction, intellectual property is very important. Mostly in the food industry, unfortunately it's very difficult to claim intellectual property. It's usually a trade secret because it's very difficult to make a case for many new products unless they're highly technological. The honibe product was.
Another client working with us is doing a process for aging whisky very successfully. This particular process reduces the time to age whisky to develop into a product that tastes like a 10-year-old whisky, and it's done within 40 minutes. This has been taken up by a company from Scotland that is selling products in North America, and they've started a test market this year in the U.S. of 10,000 cases of this product to see how well it does. They've had very good results with it, and they can individualize the product quality. ...too much detail, but it's a very interesting process, and it's probably going to be used around the world to age spirits.