Mr. Speaker, the answer is as follows: a) The CFIA is working with other government departments, Environment Canada, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, to develop a common strategy to assess the potential risks associated with the spreading of industrial and human wastes on agricultural lands by conducting research projects and developing effective regulatory mechanisms. CFIA also conducts product safety assessments on fertilizer and supplement products on case-by-case basis. These assessments include an evaluation of risk to human, animal and plant health and the environment associated with the fertilizer and supplement product. The scope of CFIA's authority to regulate the spreading of industrial and human wastes on agricultural lands is defined by the Fertilizer Act and regulations. The Fertilizer Act and regulations allow the CFIA to regulate the importation and sale of fertilizer and supplement products directly, but not their use of disposal. When industrial or agricultural waste is sold or imported for the purpose of application to agricultural lands as a fertilizer, the product is subject to the Act and Regulations. Pursuant to the regulations, all fertilizer products must be safe, with respect to human, animal and plant health and the environment, efficacious when used as directed and properly labelled as to avoid misrepresentation in the marketplace. Compliance of commercial fertilizers with the prescribed product safety and efficacy standards is verified through marketplace monitoring activities which include inspection, product sampling and analysis as well as label verification. A number of CFIA monitoring programs specifically target risks associated with the application of industrial and waste products to agricultural lands, heavy metal content and pathogen contamination. This said, the limited scope of the CFIA's regulatory authority in this area requires that it work closely with stakeholders, the public and other government departments, provinces and municipalities to achieve comprehensive mitigation of risks associated with application of biosolids on agricultural lands.
b) With respect to the land application of poultry materials, in 2004 the Animal Health Risk Assessment Division of CFIA conducted risk assessments and provided scientific advice documents on the efficacy of composting as a method of disposal for material infected with avian influenza viruses, highly pathogenic avian influenza, H7N3. The results of the assessments demonstrated that the release of avian influenza viruses from composted poultry carcasses and manure is negligible, “the event would be virtually unlikely to occur”. This represents the lowest of seven risk estimate categories the CFIA applies in its animal health risk assessment process.
The risk of exposing cattle to BSE through the use of various destruction and disposal methods of cattle tissues potentially infected with BSE was evaluated by the CFIA in 2005. One of the techniques assessed by the agency was the land application of waste water treatment solids recovered from abattoir and rendering plant operations which process cattle and cattle byproducts. In BSE-infected cattle, specified risk materials, SRM, are tissues, like the brain and spinal cord, which contain the vast majority of the infectious agent that causes BSE. As it was anticipated that some rendering operations in Canada may, once the proposed federal feed restriction enhancements come into effect, specialize in the rendering of solely cattle SRM, an assessment of BSE risk to animal health posed by the spreading of such solids was included in this project. The draft assessment concluded that the estimated risk of BSE transmission from this practice in a Canadian context would be negligible.
Furthermore, the CFIA has been engaged in conducting research to support the regulatory initiatives in the area of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and avian influenza. The following projects have been completed or are ongoing to assess the various disposal methods for the contaminated livestock and poultry waste: (1) Development and evaluation of composting strategies as a means for the safe disposal of animal carcasses from transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (2001-2005); (2) The fate of avian influenza viruses during composting of chicken carcasses and manure (2005-2007); and (3) On site composting for bio-containment and safe disposal of infectious animal carcasses and manure in the event of a bio-terrorism attack (2005-09). In addition, another project has been recently approved and work is planned to start soon to develop methods to destroy and measure abnormal prion protein and infectivity during composting of carcasses and high risk materials of animals infected with transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (2006-2009).
c) The CFIA has been actively engaged in discussions with both the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing and the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour regarding the practice of spreading rendering process materials and biosolids on agricultural land. In 2005, the CFIA participated in a public biosolids science forum and subsequent stakeholder's meeting sponsored by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour. Most recently, the CFIA has agreed to participate in a biosolids science committee currently being assembled by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour to provide scientific and technical advice to their biosolids advisory committee. The CFIA is also engaged in national initiatives that focus on the regulation, management and use of waste-derived materials including the Canadian Biosolid Partnership.
d) As part of the enhanced feed ban regulations proposed by the CFIA in December 2004, cattle SRM tissues would be prohibited from use in animal food as well as fertilizers and fertilizer supplements in Canada. This prohibition would serve to keep potentially BSE-infected feeds and fertilizers off farms. In addition, a system of CFIA-administered permits has been proposed to control the collection, conveyance, treatment, disposal or destruction of SRM via rendering, composting, landfilling, incineration or other methods. Should a rendering facility choose to accept and process cattle SRM tissues once the enhanced restrictions come into effect, any rendering process materials, including protein meals, recovered solids from waste water treatment or composted SRM tissues, would require disposal or destruction in accordance with the CFIA permit conditions as well as provincial and municipal requirements. The permitting scheme allows for an added level of control and risk mitigation while the research projects and collection of empirical data are underway (see section c). Furthermore, according to the proposed enhancements all fertilizer and supplement products containing prohibited materials will require additional precautionary statements on the label that preclude their application to pasture land or other grazing areas for ruminants.