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Agriculture

Chinese complaint to third canola firm not a recent escalation: minister

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  • OTTAWA — A spokesman for federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says China’s move to issue a non-compliance complaint against a third Canadian canola-seed exporter was not a recent escalation of an ongoing trade dispute because the notice was delivered in January.

    Speaking to a parliamentary committee Tuesday, Bibeau told lawmakers she had been informed that a third Canadian canola company had received a non-compliance notification from China over quality concerns with its product.

    Hours later, Bibeau’s spokesman Oliver Anderson said it’s important to add that the non-compliance notice against the third firm — which asked the government not to be identified — should not be viewed as a new intensification of the countries’ feud.

    Chinese authorities also issued non-compliance notices to major Canadian canola-seed exporters Richardson International Ltd. and Viterra Inc. in January — and in early March it suspended both companies’ licences to sell canola seed in China. 

    Bibeau said Tuesday that the third company’s licence had not been revoked.

    China’s moves in recent weeks to block Canada’s key canola-seed shipments are widely seen as retaliation for the December arrest of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the behest of the United States.

    “In January, three Canadian companies received notices of non-compliance regarding shipments of canola seed from Canada to China,” Bibeau said in a statement Wednesday. “In March, China suspended the registration of two of the companies. They have not suspended the registration of the third company.”

    Bibeau also said Canadian and Chinese officials are continuing to discuss the matter.

    The Liberal government has insisted it wants to find a scientific solution to the dispute and Bibeau sent a letter to her Chinese counterpart with a request to send a delegation of experts to China to examine the issue.

    The federal Liberals have also established a working group that includes officials from Richardson and Viterra and representatives from the governments of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

    The Canadian Press


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    Ag Politics

    WATCH: When Boycotts Don’t Work

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  • What do you do when you want to boycott something, but can’t?

    This video is a co-production. Ryan Tipps at Ag Daily and Nick Saik worked on this piece together.  It’s about what can happen when bitten by a particular nasty little tick.  This tick, the “Lone Star” tick, has saliva that triggers an immune response reprogram in humans.  This in turn triggers an allergy to all types of red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork. In Nick’s words:

    “He’s written an excellent article that you can checkout here: https://www.agdaily.com/insights/when… Heads Up: I use a political analogy in this video. It’s not meant to rile anyone up, it just seemed like a good way to explain my point. I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you fall on, it was just an analogy….”

    This video was produced independently by Know Ideas Media


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    Agriculture

    Feds’ plan for neonicotinoids makes little sense, environment groups say

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  • OTTAWA — Environment groups are calling out Canada’s approach to assessing pesticides after seven years of reviews led Health Canada to simultaneously decide to allow certain popular products to keep being used with restrictions, and to propose banning the same products from outdoor uses altogether.

    The Pest Management Regulatory Agency on Thursday released its final decision on what limits should be placed on a category of nicotine-based pesticides known as neonicotinoids to keep them from killing bees. Starting in two years, the pesticides won’t be allowed to be sprayed at all on certain crops like apples and tree nuts and there will be limited times when they can be sprayed on many others, like tomatoes, eggplants and berries.

    Products that have no alternatives are given an extra year before they are affected by the decision.

    The agency said the risks the products pose to bees in other applications, such as pre-treating seeds, are acceptable and only require new labels to warn of the dangers. Most of Canada’s canola and corn crop seeds are pre-treated with neonicotinoids, along with about half the country’s soybean seeds.

    However, this decision, which won’t begin to take effect until 2021, will likely be overridden in less than a year when the agency finalizes a separate assessment of the exact same products for their impact on aquatic insects. The agency found in 2016 that the most popular of the neonicotinoids was building up in ground and surface water and recommended banning it outright. It also launched a special assessment of the other two most common “neonics,” concluding in 2018 that they also needed to be banned.

    The very final decision on that won’t come until January 2020.

    “Right now this is strictly about the risk to pollinators and for this assessment not all uses pose an unacceptable risk to pollinators,” said Scott Kirby, the director general of the environmental-assessment division of the pest management agency.

    Lisa Gue, a senior researcher at the David Suzuki Foundation, said it is “disturbing” that the agency is continuing to allow neonicotinoids at all given that the agency’s scientists have concluded they cause unacceptable harm to any kinds of insects.

    “The decision-making process here is just incomprehensible and incoherent,” she said.

    Beatrice Olivastri, the executive director of Friends of the Earth Canada, said the agency’s fragmented approach to reviewing the products is “nonsensical.”

    Neonicotinoids are used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike to manage pests like aphids and spider mites. Scientists blame the chemicals for weakening bees, making them more susceptible to disease and bad weather.

    More than one-third of the world’s food crops require pollinators, like bees, for production.

    The European Union banned neonicotinoids at the end of last year after scientists concluded there was no safe way to use them without hurting bees. In 2017, a task force at the International Union for Conservation of Nature updated a compilation of more than 1,100 peer-reviewed research studies of neonicotinoids and concluded there was no doubt they harm bees.

    Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press



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