Friday, January 24, 2014

More bungling at CFIA

More bungling has been revealed at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, this time over its handling of organic certifications.

The CFIA tests organic produce for pesticide residues and says it shares the results with the organizations that certify organic growers and distributors. The organizations are responsible for policing their ranks and the CFIA accepts its disciplines.

However, the CFIA now admits that it has failed to share its test results with the certifying bodies.

This all came out only because the CBC applied, under Access to Information, for the test results.

After it broadcast its findings that some organic produce has elevated pesticide residues, even in some cases more than is allowed for conventional production, certifying bodies complained that they didn't know.

Duff Conacher, a board member with the Ottawa-based group Democracy Watch, told CBC News the food inspection agency's response is unacceptable. 

"The CFIA officials clearly misled you and they were essentially trying to make it seem like they had taken followup action," Conacher said in an interview. 

"If they mislead the public or the media and get away with it, they are undermining the very integrity of government and undermining, in a very dangerous and unethical way, Canada's democracy." 

This is, of course, far from the first time Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have misled Canadians about issues that arise in their bailiwick.

The food-safety aspects of the CFIA have been taken away from Ritz and deposited with Health Canada.

But where can Harper move responsibility for organic foods?

Or, more like it, where can he move Ritz and find somebody in his ranks who has the wisdom and courage to provide the necessary leadership?