Canary Seed Development Commission of Saskatchewan


June 30, 2010

Mexico enforces zero tolerance for wild buckwheat in canary seed

A trade disruption is occurring with Canada’s top export destination for canary seed.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency received notification from Mexico on June 23 that all imports of Canadian canary seed will be held and tested for the presence of quarantine weed seeds. Specifically, Mexico is looking for wild buckwheat and they have indicated that the detection of just one wild buckwheat seed will result in rejection of the canary seed shipment.

The CFIA tests every consignment for weed seeds prior to issuing a phytosanitary certificate, but industry officials say Canada won’t be able to meet the zero tolerance Mexico now says it will be  enforcing.

There are herbicides that control wild buckwheat in canary seed, but there are still seeds that show up in the production. Canadian cleaning plants remove weed seeds including wild buckwheat, but the cleaning isn’t perfect.

In the three years from 2007 to 2009, Canada annually exported an average of 173,000 tonnes of canary seed, the vast majority of which originated in Saskatchewan. Mexico was the top customer in each of those years importing an average of 41,000 tonnes (nearly one-quarter of total exports).

The Canadian grain industry is working to convince Mexican officials that their zero tolerance is unworkable. Canada has exported canary seed to Mexico for many years and it isn’t clear why there is now a problem with wild buckwheat.

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