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CFIA invests $80 million to update Centre for Plant Health

The CFIA and other partners will modernize the Centre over the next five years to make it better able to protect Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector


Sidney, B.C. – Canada is about to get a new plant-health research facility.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced in a statement that it will invest $80 million to replace the Centre for Plant Health in Sidney, B.C. with a new “world-class” and state-of-the-art facility.

Lawrence MacAulay, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, with Anna-Mary Schmidt and André Levesque of the CFIA at the Centre for Plant Health in Sidney, B.C. (CNW Group/Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA))

The CFIA explains that the Centre is a CFIA diagnostic testing, research and quarantine facility, which has both laboratories and greenhouses.

Pascal Spothelfer, president and CEO of Genome British Columbia, welcomed the news. In the statement he explains that a new centre “will enable B.C.’s leading scientists to apply novel technologies, like genomics, to critical agricultural issues such as invasive pathogens and viruses.”

The grape sector was also pleased. Hans Buchler, research coordinator at the British Columbia Wine Grape Council and chair of the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network, says a more modernized facility “will greatly contribute to the mitigation of many viral diseases and other pathogens that currently threaten the Canadian grape sector.”

The current centre was established in 1912 and is comprised of 48 buildings, mostly wood frame, greenhouses and screenhouses.

According to the CFIA, the Centre is Canada’s only “post-entry quarantine, research, and diagnostic facility for tree fruit, grapevine and small fruit.” It’s also recognized internationally as an accredited laboratory and diagnostic testing centre for imports and exports using internationally recognized methods.

Many of the scientists who work there are recognized international experts by plant protection standard setting bodies.

The CFIA adds that it counts on virus and other plant pathogen testing to make its regulatory decisions and to protect Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry.

In the past, the centre has helped safeguard against plum pox virus and other pests that can devastate crops.

The new plant health research facility will provide CFIA scientists and partners with state-of-the-art facilities to advance plant science. More modern tools will also help staff develop and partner on new ideas and opportunities “to protect and grow Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector.”

The statement says the CFIA worked with B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture and other partners to make a business case for the investment in a new centre. The new centre will be developed over five years together with industry, provincial governments and academic partners.

 


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