Sustainability prominent focus for Canada's plant science industry



    OTTAWA, April 21 /CNW/ - Canada's farmers play an important role in
meeting the food, fuel and fibre needs of the growing world population, often
with the help of modern agricultural technologies. Canada's plant science
industry recognizes the efforts of these men and women to meet these
challenges and we join with them in celebrating Earth Day by renewing and
expanding our commitment to safe and innovative tools to help enhance
agricultural sustainability.
    "Farmers are the original environmentalists. They know that protecting
our environment is key to ensuring good harvests now and in the future -
that's sustainability in its most basic form," Lorne Hepworth, president of
CropLife Canada said.
    "What modern plant sciences, such as plant biotechnology and pest control
products, do is provide farmers with new and sophisticated tools that enhance
their ability to achieve sustainability not only on their own farms, but also
in relationship to how they help meet the global needs of people, planet and
prosperity."
    CropLife Canada and its members - companies that develop, manufacture and
distribute pesticides and plant biotechnology - acknowledge their
responsibility to help farmers operate sustainably and will build on existing
programs and practices to do so.
    "Our industry already has a significant focus on our own
responsibilities," said Hepworth. "For example, in Canada, we have recycled
over 77 million empty pesticide containers into safe, new products for use on
farms. Laid end-to-end those containers would stretch far enough to go more
than halfway around the Earth's circumference."
    As leaders in research and development, Canada's plant science companies
embrace their responsibility to focus research investments in areas that will
create even more robust opportunities for sustainable agriculture. Examples of
how the industry does this are available in the accompanying backgrounder.
    "It's a changing world and our innovations are going to be part of
shaping the future," Hepworth said.
    "One of the most important contributions we can make is to invest in
technology that will help protect Canada's rich, agricultural land, land that
is an important food source for the world and which must now serve not only
that important role, but others as well, in order to ensure a sustainable
environment."
    CropLife Canada is the trade association that represents the
manufacturers, developers and distributors of plant science innovations. More
information about our organization can be found at www.croplife.ca.

    
                                 BACKGROUNDER
     Sustainability prominent focus for Canada's plant science industry

    Canada's plant science industry enhances the sustainability of Canadian
    agriculture with innovations that benefit people, the planet and
    prosperity. Here's how:

    People:
    -------
    

    By 2050, the world population will have increased to 9.6 billion. How to
feed that many people makes improved production one of agriculture's foremost
concerns, as well as one of the plant science industry's biggest
contributions. Through pesticides and biotechnology, the plant sciences
industry offers farmers important tools for increasing yields thus helping to
sustain our growing population.
    Continued access to existing and new pesticide technologies to control
weeds, insects and diseases helps Canadian farmers produce a safe and
bountiful food supply. Without pesticides, food production in Canada would
decrease by as much as 40 per cent - a drop that would have dramatic impacts
on the ability to feed a hungry world.
    Biotechnology also helps increase yields by increasing pest resistance
and drought tolerance, but research into increasing yields in other ways is
also underway.
    Beyond sheer quality and quantity, significant biotechnology research is
also focused on ways of adding additional health value to our food. One
example of this is canola, a true Canadian biotechnology success story, and a
great example of what biotechnology can do to increase the health profile of
foods.
    Other examples on the not-so-distant horizon include increased omega 3 in
oils for better heart health, boosted lycopene in tomatoes for antioxidants
associated with reducing the risk of cancer, and potatoes with 30 per cent
more protein and the ability to absorb less oil.

    
    Planet
    ------
    

    Yield boosting technology - whether it is biotechnological or chemical -
means farmers are able to get more from the same amount of land. That's good
for the farmer and for the consumer, but it's also good for the planet because
it means we protect forests, wetlands and other terrain that would otherwise
be needed to produce food.
    These lands, in their natural state, are important wildlife habitats that
contribute to ecological diversity that is facing challenges because of
urbanization.
    The planet also benefits from practices such as conservation tillage,
which would not be possible without innovations in pesticides and plant
biotechnology. The benefits of conservation tillage, which is now practiced on
more than 12 million hectares in Canada, include reduced risk of soil erosion,
improved soil quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Low tillage also
reduces fuel consumption by about 40 per cent while zero-till reduces it by 70
per cent.
    Another sustainability challenge the plant sciences industry is working
to address is that of water shortages. With predictions that one in five
countries will face water shortages by 2030, this is a significant threat to
the ability of farmers to produce enough food to feed the world.
    Plant biotechnology research on drought resistance has been ongoing for
some time now, and field-testing of drought resistant corn and canola is
already underway in Canada.
    Our industry's commitment to sustainability also includes a significant
focus on our own responsibilities such as the responsible recycling of empty
containers and management of obsolete products. In Canada, over 77 million
empty pesticide containers being recycled into safe, new products for use on
farms and over 1.2 million kilograms of obsolete pesticides have been
collected and responsibly disposed of.
    These initiatives have earned the respect of our counterparts around the
world for their thoroughness and effectiveness, thanks to the support and
participation of stakeholders throughout agriculture. By adopting a philosophy
of responsibility and partnership, we are helping to minimize agriculture's
footprint on the environment.

    
    Prosperity
    ----------
    

    Innovations in agriculture are already providing solutions to the world's
energy concerns. The development of bio-fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel
has created a vital, new value-added market for corn, canola and other
commodities while providing a cleaner, more environmentally friendly source of
renewable energy.
    The plant sciences industry is keen to support this option for
alleviating reliance on petroleum and non-renewable fuels. Significant
research is already underway to develop higher starch content in crops, more
efficient starch to ethanol conversions and ways to use biotech-derived
microorganisms to increase refining process efficiencies.
    Similarly, plant-based materials are emerging as exciting new
replacements for products that were previously derived from non-renewable
resources. These include plastics and polyester, as well as more
environmentally friendly option for clothes, carpets, bedding and home décor.
    These examples merely glimpse the opportunities ahead - opportunities for
greater sustainability that the plant science industry is committed to
bringing to fruition.





For further information:

For further information: Nadine Sisk, CropLife Canada, (613) 230-9881
Ext 3224

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