Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, committee members.
My name is Dennis Prouse, and I am the vice-president of government affairs for CropLife Canada. My colleague Ian Affleck, our vice-president of plant biotechnology, is with me.
The issue of global food insecurity is one that is of great concern to everyone across the value chain in Canadian agriculture and agri-food. We take our role in helping to feed a hungry world very seriously, and we are united by a belief that Canada has a moral responsibility to act now in the face of rising global food insecurity to do its part.
In talking about solutions, we think it's also useful to gain some historical context on where we've come from. In 1962 when the world population was four billion, the United Nations estimated that 25% of the world's population was starving or malnourished. Sixty years later, with the world population approaching eight billion, the UN estimates that 9.9% of people are facing hunger. While the world population doubled, we cut the number of people facing hunger by more than half. While that number is still too high, it's a remarkable achievement. The green revolution in modern agriculture, namely innovation and the farmers who have embraced it and skilfully applied it, is what helps drive this success.
In the Canadian context, today's Canadian farm can produce twice as much output as 50 years ago with the same total input. This astounding increase in productivity has been matched by improved sustainability. Total emissions from Canada's agriculture sector have been relatively stable for 20 years, resulting in a decrease of greenhouse gas emission intensity of 50% from 1997 to 2017 compared to a 36% decrease for the economy as a whole in the same period. Due to the adoption of soil conservation practices, agricultural soils in Canada have been sequestering carbon for 20 years.
Plant science and innovation are helping farmers grow stronger, healthier crops across Canada. The data is clear in showing that pesticides and plant-breeding innovations deliver many benefits to Canadian consumers and the environment. Canadian families save an average of $4,500 per year on food costs thanks to efficient, high-yield farming practices.
Notwithstanding the gains we've discussed, though, we know that food insecurity has now started to rise again globally due to the pandemic, global conflicts and climate change. The number of malnourished people may have risen by as much as 150 million people over the last two years. Many members of Parliament are seeing food insecurity at home as well.
There's no magic wand or simple solution to these challenges, but we do believe strongly that modern agriculture and approved sustainable productivity growth can play a role in helping to address food insecurity here at home and abroad. We know that, given the right tools, Canadian farmers and Canadian agri-food businesses can grow and export more. This, in turn, can make Canada more prosperous.
The government-commissioned Barton report in 2017 talked about the untapped potential of Canadian agriculture. In a 2019 report, the Royal Bank of Canada stated that, with the correct skills mix, the agriculture sector could add another $11 billion to Canada's GDP and make the sector more productive than auto manufacturing and aerospace combined.
Modern Canadian agriculture is more sustainable than it's ever been. We're producing more food on less land, using fewer inputs and less water per acre, and burning fewer fossil fuels. This is due to innovation, and the farmer is embracing it. There's an opportunity for us to step up and do more to address food insecurity, but we need the tools to do it. We need a regulatory climate that facilitates and rewards innovation and makes Canada an agriculture technology hub.
Our recommendations, Mr. Chair, would be the following.
One, focus on regulatory modernization as a tool to encourage innovation. Our industry needs a regulatory system that is prompt, predictable and science-based. Politically motivated policy adventures in regulation on crop protection products or biotechnology would put Canadian farmers at a huge disadvantage globally.
Two, promote and defend the sustainability of Canadian agriculture on the world stage. While we work towards continuous improvements, we would like to see Canada promote the sustainability success story of Canadian farmers on the world stage and ensure that it is recognized in all international forums and negotiations. Canada is a world leader in sustainable agriculture and can be a world leader in sustainable productivity growth.
Finally, support exports by promoting science-based trade rules. We ask the government to better use international mechanisms and institutions to ensure science-based, predictable, more transparent trade rules for agriculture. A well-functioning trade system allows nations and regions to focus on the crops and products they produce more efficiently, thus helping to address food insecurity.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. We look forward to any questions the committee might have.