CFIA launches new DNA-based projects to boost fruit plant trade

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On August 15, Lawrence MacAulay announced that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will lead two projects worth $500,000 that use new DNA-based technologies to reduce the quarantine testing time, protect Canada’s fruit industry from viruses, and boost trade and economic competitiveness in the $240 million Canadian tree fruit industry.

The first project will dramatically shorten the testing period of seeds, cuttings and bulbs imported into Canada to grow new varieties of plants. With this funding, scientists will use DNA technology to test for all viruses associated with imported plants to get an early indication of any plant diseases present. This approach could reduce the quarantine testing time by up to two and a half years.

The second project streamlines the testing of strawberry plants. Traditionally, multiple tests for viruses are required before exporting strawberry plants to foreign markets. This project will test for multiple viruses in one single test, dramatically reducing the time and cost to get plants to market.

The Canadian Horticultural Council welcomes the announcement, as our members have been calling for a Canadian clean-plant program. We look forward to seeing how these projects help grow our members’ trade opportunities.

For more information, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/food-inspection-agency/news/2017/08/new_dna-based_projectstoboostfruitplanttrade.html or contact Jennifer Babcock at jbabcock@hortcouncil.ca.