Good afternoon, Madam Chairman, and good afternoon to all the committee members. Thank you very much for the invitation to appear in front of you today.
I want to start with a very brief introduction of our organization. Pulse Canada is the national industry group representing farmers and processors and exporters of pulse crops in Canada.
You may not know that Canada is the world's largest exporter of pulse crops, accounting for some 37% of global trade. Canada exports pulse crops like peas, beans, lentils, and chick peas to more than 150 countries around the world. While Canada's pulse crop industry might not be front of mind with all Canadians, the global pulse community does recognize Canada as a global pulse superpower, and we continue to grow.
Canadian farmers grew more than 4.6 million tonnes of peas in 2016, an increase of 44% from the previous year, and 3.2 million tonnes of lentils in 2016, which is a 36% increase from 2015. I believe this alone is a great story on environmental and sustainable development.
You might have heard that the United Nations has declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. To date, we've had more than 2.8 billion media impressions generated as consumers in the food industry look to the nutritional value of pulses, their contribution to important health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and increasingly the important role that pulses can play to improve the environmental footprint associated with food.
Pulses have clearly become much more than a trend. Consumer interest is continuing to grow, and the food industry is already acting, with new product launches and launches of reformulated foods that boost higher protein and fibre levels. The reformulation of food with ingredients with a small footprint will become increasingly important, and can be a cornerstone of Canadian and global approaches to reducing the footprint from food. When reformulation also improves nutritional content, it's a real win-win.
CEPA, along with other acts, is part of the regulatory framework in Canada that ensures protection of the health of Canadians and protection of the environment. Since Canada exports to more than 150 countries, the Canadian regulatory framework also provides assurances to consumers and governments around the world. Canada's export of food items like pulses is seen as a trusted source of food, in part because of our recognition as being a global leader in our regulatory approach.
Canada plays a very important role globally in ensuring that people have access to sufficient food, affordable food, and safe food. We are one of only a handful of countries in the world that regularly produces enough food to be a reliable supplier to world markets. Canada therefore plays an important role in global food security.
Our work in the pulse industry is aligned with some broad global priorities: affordable food, food that improves human health, and a food system that is environmentally sustainable. When we add in the national goals of economic growth, competitiveness, and fostering of innovation, we have a multifaceted framework within which we can build a Canadian approach to regulation with a focus on environmental protection and sustainable development.
The sustainability of all sections of the food value chain depends upon its ability to assure the other links, including the consumer, that our food is safe. Farmers have a particularly close and personal link to both human and environmental health. Regulations provide the framework and safeguards to build on this assurance. As part of a global food system, it's important for Canada to play a leading role in ensuring there are global approaches to both human and environmental health.
The PCP Act, Pest Control Products Act in Canada is an important part of the regulatory framework that's working to protect human and environmental health. There's a strong alignment between the approaches taken by Canada's PMRA and the approach taken by the EPA in the U.S., the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, and similar bodies in Australia and elsewhere. Their rigorous science-based approach to risk assessment with new and existing crop protection products not only keeps Canada's food system safe but also makes an important contribution to establishing a global framework for food safety. Canada is an important resource at Codex, which is the global food safety standards body.
Risk-based assessments recognize the importance of exposure in determining societal risk. Canada's current regulatory approach for pesticides recognizes vulnerable populations and occupational exposure as part of the comprehensive pre-market assessment.
Recognizing that we have a world-leading approach in CEPA, as well as in Canada's PCP Act and in the Seeds Act, is not to say that we wouldn't suggest or support changes. What does make sense is that we avoid overlap between agencies and acts so that Canadians have a clear process and a streamlined approach. Having dedicated departments, adequately resourced, avoids the duplication of efforts and aligns well with the need to ensure that regulatory approaches are structured to deal with the rapid pace of innovation.
As part of a global food system, we need to ensure that the uniqueness of Canada's environment and farming systems is fully considered and at the same time work to ensure the ongoing alignment of scientific approaches with other esteemed regulatory authorities around the world.
Consumer preferences can be met with differentiation in the marketplace. Regulatory approaches in human and environmental safety must remain focused on the weight of scientific evidence. Canada's regulatory approaches can continue to be science-driven and evidence-based and can look to how other governments and science bodies have taken risk-based approaches. This is the way that we can protect people and the planet, and ensure that Canada continues to play an important role in sustainably feeding the world's population with affordable food.