Cleavers decision not serving farmers

The Canola Council of Canada, with the Western Grain Elevator Association and the Canola Oilseed Processors Association (collectively, the multinationals) have come out against quinclorac and in particular, Clever, (a low-cost solution for cleaver problems), which we feel do not convey the full story about quinclorac.

Let’s look at the following statement by CCC president Patti Miller:

“China has no maximum residue limit (MRLs) for quinclorac on canola. Being one of the biggest markets for canola, China has no history of accepting imports of canola where quinclorac residues have been detected.

There is also no MRL for the herbicide on canola in the Codex Alimentarius, which is an internationally recognized collection of standards considered by Chinese authorities when accepting imported products.”

Yet 23 of the 53 pesticides actives registered for canola with established MRLs in Canada could fall into a similar statement. China has no more a documented acceptance of codex than it does for country of origin, making 46 of the 53 actives for canola in Canada unsuitable for China.

It seems that quinclorac is unfairly targeted. Country of origin, much the same as Codex, is also considered by Chinese authorities when accepting imported products.

The multinationals further claim that quinclorac can be found on canola when testing samples that quinclorac was used on. Again, this statement could apply to the vast majority of the pesticides registered in Canada for use on canola when tested in the manner that quinclorac was detected in samples, and not the internationally standard manner in which China tests.

When tested, the average quinclorac residue is below .02 parts per million (ppm), falling far below the acceptable deemed safe level by Health Canada of 1.5 ppm. Quinclorac’s tested levels, when used at the rates Clever has on its label, are below 43 of the 53 pesticides registered MRLs for Canada.

BASF’s Chris Vander Kant said: “We make a point of making sure we have the necessary MRLs for all the major export markets.”

Yet most of BASF’s canola products do not have registered MRLs in China. This includes their form of quinclorac.

Given that China only tests for MRLs they have established, and will defer to Codex and country of origin if requested by the importing company, is it necessary to establish an import tolerance?

Quinclorac has been around for more than 15 years and is known to work on canola and yet is still not added to Codex.

Further, quinclorac has no schedule to be added to Codex, yet BASF’s more expensive and new products have been added.

In canola weed problems, cleavers ranks third, it is the fastest spreading weed, and at the top of the list for recent resistance to glyphosate.

The CCC puts out information on how to deal with cleavers. This information uses high-cost solutions like Edge, which has an active ingredient that has no MRL in China or Codex listing.

A recent release from the University of Saskatchewan Department of Soil Sciences says, “The correlation between increasing cleavers populations and canola acres potentially means that current canola herbicide options do not effectively control cleaver populations.”

A cleaver infestation of only five percent (a minor infestation) potentially costs growers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Gerry Ritz, former federal agriculture minister and sitting MP, could not be more clear when he stated that this is not an issue to the Chinese.

This is a “made in Canada” problem, as quinclorac poses no more risk than many of the existing pesticides used in Canada.

We feel that quinclorac, brought to market by a low-cost input supplier, is being targeted by the multinationals without just cause or science.

It further appears that the multinationals are waging a war against low-cost alternatives. We feel that the multinationals are limiting options available to growers, through the use of red herrings like MRLs, resulting in growers needing to pay upward of $50 per acre for pesticides much the way they now do for seed.

We feel that the multinationals have used the CCC, an organization significantly funded by the growers’ volunteer check-off dollars, to work against the growers’ own best interests.

Sean Cooper, is director of corporate development with Great Northern Growers, which makes Clever herbicide.

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