Talks between Canadian and Chinese government officials about a resolution to China’s refusal to import Canadian canola seed with blackleg disease are continuing, Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Nov. 7.
China, Canada’s biggest canola seed market last year, is refusing to accept Canadian canola with the disease as of Nov. 15 and has not been accepting Australian canola as of Oct. 15.
“We’ve got officials on the ground in Beijing and here in Canada working around the clock to make progress on this issue,” Ritz said in a statement to Reuters. “Everybody knows this situation is going to require a lot of hard work and we’re committed to keeping the talks going.”
China imported at least 2.6 million tonnes of canola last year.
China refused the Canadian delegation’s request for a six-month delay to the Nov. 15 date, which refers to shipment from Canada, the Canola Council of Canada said earlier.
In addition, China had not shown any willingness to consider alternative steps to reduce the risk of importing Canadian canola with blackleg disease, such as transferring canola from vessels directly into crushing plant silos, the canola council said. Such a move would essentially segregate Canadian canola from China’s rapeseed.
Blackleg, a disease caused by a fungus that can kill the canola plant but has no human health risk, is not a major threat to Canadian crops because of resistant crop varieties. However, it is commonly found on canola seed.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has said it cannot issue a certificate that canola shipments are blackleg free because it is a common canola disease and there is no agreed-to testing method.