CanadaGAP Will Phase Out Certification for Aquaponic Operations in 2020

Although it states research is limited, they’re pulling certification? Antibiotics?

That’s quite a bold move. Do you have access to the research they’re quoting?

Is this the only Food Safety certification company in Canada or just one of the big ones?

I got in touch with them and got the info:

Our review of the limited research available emphasizes one point: that more research is needed to fully understand how chemical contamination can occur in aquaponics production. Some of the available research includes:

  • Uptake of hormones (i.e. steroid hormones) has been recorded in plants grown under hydroponic conditions but further studies are needed as most of the research focused on antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals (Madikizela et al., 2018).

  • A study was done under hydroponic conditions that found that antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals can be taken up by the plant and stored within the edible portions of the plant (Herklotz et al., 2010). So if antibiotics are being used in aquaponics, it could make there way into the plants.

  • Riggio et al., 2019 conducted a review of research studies to highlight the risks of human pathogen internalization in leafy vegetables grown hydroponically in the context of food safety (though they did also include some aquaponic based studies). The review concluded that human pathogens-both viruses and bacteria-can internalize in leafy greens grown hydroponically.

  • Yep and Zheng, 2019 also did a thorough literature review and noted concerns about safety as a result of crops being produced in close proximity to fish and waste products. They also noted the need for further research to answer the many outstanding questions.

  • Research on aquaponics has also been done by the University of Alberta and University of Hawaii. Most of this research identifies the need for further studies on potential sources of cross-contamination in an aquaponics setting.

There was no specific incident that prompted our decision to discontinue coverage of aquaponics within the CanadaGAP program. We are continually monitoring the science and a number of studies have been recently published that raise new concerns about the potential for internalization and possible avenues for chemical contamination. There are no specific aquaponic systems that are highlighted (as yet) in the research as representing a greater risk than others. Perhaps that is an area of further study as well. Antibiotics is probably the main concern from a chemical perspective, but there may be other sources of contamination such as hormones (if used). I wish we had more answers and guidance for you – but the absence of information is one of the reasons that we are hesitant to claim that the controls in our program will continue to adequately address the potential hazards, until more research is conducted.

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Thanks for sharing this info.

This is great info thanks for sharing. Sounds like they’re mostly a little nervous and need more research for specific topics. I am wondering how much of their concerns can be met with a solid audit trail of inputs and a good farm management/crop handling policy.

Just curious about @JohnP’s question, are there other food safety cert companies in Canada? How large is this one in relation to the others?

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I doubt this will actually happen theres multiple large aquaponic cannabis operations in canada that stand to lose alot of money and they actually have the lawyer money to fight this. Might be worth talking to them about a centralized legal fight.

This is a weird one because BRC the parent charter of Canada GAP is still certifying Aquaponics, obviously pending audit criteria and the facility actually checks out for control point management protocol. Otherwise Aquaponics with Antibiotics is just a lot of hog wash.

Theres no reason to use Antibiotics in aquaponics you can get better results with out effecting any mineralizing bacteria with regular dosing of Lactobacillus inoculant to cover food safety issues. Iv treated systems now as large as 60,000 gallons in real world commercial farms of E. coli on 3 different farms its time we start using probiotics and head off some of these crazy issues before they can even be a thing.

All valid points. Unfortunately it will take a peer reviewed academic publication to validate such measures before it can be taken seriously by legislators. Or you could go the traditional route and organize a strong lobby in the swamp.

All these inferences are true to any growing condition, it is unfortunate that it is being zeroed in on Aquaponics at CanadaGAP. Any water soluble pharmaceutical so to speak will end up or find its way to the edible portions of crop regardless of where it is grown. Whats ironical is that these very research institutions make a 180 on the subject when it come to glyphosates and claim all is well. The very same CanadaGAP document when handling GMO starters (seeds, cuttings et al.) which they conveniently refer to as PNT (plants with novel traits) they simply say if it is permitted strains by the government then it is permitted to use.

The same when talking of Agricultural chemicals as a global set of everything remotely additive, they simply say “proper” methods of dispensing must be practiced.

The cherry on the cake however, is that CanadaGAP has defined a variant of Aquaponics to be greenhouse irrigated with river or ponds stocked with fish !! An uncontrolled environment is obviously case for uncertainty. When presented in that light the concept will never get the right treatment.

Thats the exact reason i gave up on academia its painfully slow and cripples progress. Why would private sector data be any less relevant if its on a commercial system? That makes no sense a pathogen test from a food safety lab is the same if its a company or a university. COA is a COA legally speaking.

True. However the system of verification of information in our society (or large scheme of things) is largely placed with academic institutions and peer reviewed publications. Hard to beat that system after a century.

How many before and after lab results in the real world not a lab setting would it take to convince you? We test every 10lbs of biomass and the water monthly. I have quite a bit of data. Real world data not perfect conditions data which at the end of the day is a much better representation of actual food safety.

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Haha I am not the one that needs convincing, im merely explaining the status quo

Oh I know but what amount of real world data is worth one of there papers to them?

Their argument to that real world data can be manipulated, biased or bought. “He who pays the piper owns the tune…”

Hence the peer reviewed publication system. Which is a joke in itself because the grant application pretty much dictates the talk there.

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That point is less relevant when its across different farms and different crops. Also no ones trying to sell anything with LABs the info is out there for free there’s no monetary gain for any one involved no one sells LABs you have to make it yourself on cite for best results its not shelf stable enough. I myself have 5 different how to videos on it. Theres no financial incentive for any one suggesting using LABs which makes the whos paying for it part moot.

My point exactly and since cannabis is federally illegal we can’t even do the research legally. So which aquaponic veggie researcher wants to test it per the parameters cited in the Canadian gap complaint. Il help you.

we published this in response to CANADA GAP last year: https://aquaponicsassociation.org/food-safety-letter-november-2019/

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see our response last year FYI: https://aquaponicsassociation.org/food-safety-letter-november-2019/

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