The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is developing a new test for blackleg in canola as it seeks a resolution to a dispute with China over its new import restrictions against the oilseed.
As of Nov. 15, China is restricting Canadian canola with blackleg to ports not widely used by Canadian exporters. Canada is the world’s top exporter of canola; China was its biggest export market last year.
For Canadian canola to move through its preferred ports, China requires a certificate guaranteeing it’s free of blackleg, something CFIA has previously said it cannot give because blackleg is a common disease.
But CFIA is now devising a test that amplifies canola specifically for the blackleg pathogen and can distinguish between different strains of the disease, Resource News International reported a CFIA official saying Nov. 17.
Most of the canola Canada ships to China is for processing, not replanting, and has not been tested for blackleg in the past.
The new test is unlikely to be of much immediate help to exporters, said a canola industry source who asked not to be identified. China’s restrictions apply to canola with any strain of blackleg, but Canada may be building a case with the new test to show China that much of Canada’s canola contains only the less-serious strain of blackleg already present in China, he said.
“They have to appear to be doing something,” the source said.
Many industry officials believe China is imposing the import restrictions to winnow down its current stockpile. China is also restricting canola imports from Australia.