VANCOUVER — Canada's agriculture minister says using DNA-based technology to test the health of fruit plants will grow Canada's agricultural export sector.
Lawrence MacAulay announced Tuesday that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is leading two projects with multiple industry and research groups where new science will be used to find faster ways of determining if fruit plants are infected with viruses.
One project will test seeds, cuttings and bulbs imported to Canada for growing new varieties of plant, with the aim of reducing quarantine times from three years to one year.
The other project looks to use a single test to determine if strawberry plants have any of a number of viruses, reducing the time and cost of getting Canadian strawberry plants to markets.
MacAulay says protecting plant health has direct impacts on the Canadian economy, noting the strawberry industry is valued at $17 million.
The projects are expected to cost $500,000, with funding coming from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the industry and research groups.
MacAulay says that as a farmer, he understands the financial threats viruses pose to crops.
"The idea, again, is to put more money in the farmer's pocket," he says.
The minister says it's important for Canada's industry to stay on the cutting edge of such technology.
"We're committed to giving Canadian farmers all the tools they need to be successful."
The Canadian Press