Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada hosts international conference on minor use pesticides

November 8, 2017

Specialty crop producers from around the globe are faced with regulatory challenges including the regulation and registration of pesticides. By securing a more collaborative approach to regulation and management of minor uses of pesticides internationally, Canadian producers will have better access to international markets.

To address these concerns, more than 200 experts from 35 countries, including representatives from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), gathered in Montreal in October to kick off the Third Global Minor Use Summit. The Summit focused on discussing regulatory challenges and ways to collaborate to help farmers.

A minor use of a pesticide refers to uses of herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides on low-acreage, high-value crops, or where pest control is only needed on a small portion of a farm’s overall land.

“Pesticides used to treat specialty crops are typically used in such small quantities that manufacturers find the sale potential insufficient to seek registration in Canada, leaving farmers with a limited number of tools to protect their crops,” says Jennifer Allen, an entomologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Minor Use Pesticide Program. This situation is true in many other countries as well.

“Our goal at AAFC is to support farmers by creating more efficiencies in the generation of data needed to support the regulatory process. One of the ways we can do that is by collaborating with other countries,” says Allen.

Pesticide regulations vary from country to country, both in terms of data required for their registration and the acceptable amount of residue that can be left on marketed produce (when pesticide is applied correctly). As a result of the latter, some countries will reject products at the border even if they contain trace pesticide residues which scientific studies show do not to pose an unacceptable risk.

The Summit provided a venue for experts to discuss these issues and identify ways to harmonize pesticide regulations. The goal is to reduce, whenever possible, the amount of duplication and cost involved in developing and reviewing regulatory submissions. This year’s conference saw some strong progress. The group agreed to work on the following themes over the next five years:

  • Increase cooperation by creating minor use champions from different regions of the world
  • Actively promote the adoption of procedures to establish global maximum residue limits (the amount of pesticide that can be safely left on crops)
  • Work towards a globally acceptable definition of minor crops
  • Find consensus on crop grouping and representative crops (crops that are similar enough that they can be treated the same, i.e. onions and leeks)
  • Develop a white paper on capacity building to meet regulatory data requirements

Read more about the Third Global Minor Use Summit.


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