Ritz “Baffled” By Quinclorac Policy; Canola Council Responds

Gerry Ritz

Former agriculture minister Gerry Ritz is taking issue with the Canola Council of Canada’s recommendation that growers don’t use quinclorac herbicide on canola in 2016.

“I’m baffled by this non-science-based targeting of this product,” he says in the interview below, responding to this Canola School episode published earlier this week.

Citing concerns about quinclorac residues showing up in exports to critical markets, the Canola Council has formally advised growers to avoid using the herbicide, which is used to control cleavers in canola. While Japan just established a maximum residue limit for quinclorac in December, China still has no MRL, meaning any residue at all could potentially disrupt trade to a market that takes approximately one-third of Canadian canola.

Gerry Ritz expresses his concerns with the Canola Council’s position on quinclorac:

There’s currently only one quinclorac product that’s both registered for canola and commercially available in Canada; it’s known as “Clever” and was registered by Saskatchewan-based Great Northern Growers last May. Quinclorac was also the active ingredient in an old product from BASF known as “Accord” that is registered for use on canola, but hasn’t been sold since 2002.

Ritz, who’s now the Conservatives’ trade critic, wonders why the council has recommended against using quinclorac when there are other products applied to canola that also don’t have established MRLs in China. He says his contacts in China haven’t heard about any problems with quinclorac in Canadian canola: “I’m just at a loss to understand the rationale with this.”

Responding to Ritz’s concerns, Brian Innes, vice president of government relations with the Canola Council, says the council uses the same “science-based” approach to assess export risk with all crop protection products.

“To this point there has not been another product with the same risk profile identified like quinclorac,” he says. “That’s looking at a number of factors, not just whether there are MRLs, but whether there are detectable residues, whether it will be used in a concentrated area and whether those residues will be detectable in a shipment.”

One of the primary concerns with quinclorac, Innes confirms, is that cleavers are a problem in a concentrated area (mainly eastern Saskatchewan), meaning canola shipments from the region could contain residue levels that are higher than the prairie average.

Brian Innes discusses the Canola Council’s approach to quinclorac:

Related: Seller Beware: Avoiding Mistakes That Make a Crop Difficult to Market