Unwanted snail discovery threatens recently renewed Australian canola exports to China

China has discovered an unwanted pest in a shipment of Australian canola nine months after re-opening its doors to the crop.

A report in Chinadaily says lots of bodies of cochilicella barbara, a harmful snail, were found in a cargo of 62,000 tonnes of canola imported from Australia at the port of Fangchenggang in southern China.

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said the snail “poses serious threats” to China’s agriculture. Bodies of cernuella virgata, another snail on China’s quarantine pest list, were also discovered in the shipment.

Nick Goddard, executive director of the Australian Oilseeds Federation, said it is an isolated incident.

“We understand the snails were dead and posed no quarantine risk,” he said in an email.

“However, we take any issues around the quality of Australian canola very seriously.”

The exporter and export facility responsible for the tainted shipment are working to ensure the reputation of Australian canola is maintained.

In May, Australia shipped its first load of canola to China since shipments were banned in 2009 due to concerns about blackleg fungus entering the country.

Exporters shipped 382,630 tonnes of Australian canola to China in late May and June. There are no published statistics for exports during the last half of 2013.

Australian farmers are at the tail end of their harvest. The Australian government is forecasting 3.4 million tonnes of canola production, which is 15 percent less than last year. The analyst firm Oil World thinks it could be closer to 3.6 million tonnes.

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