China refuses Canada canola extension request

Mon Nov 2, 2009 4:40pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - China, Canada's top export market for canola seed last year, has refused a Canadian delegation's request to delay for six months a plan to reject Canadian canola with blackleg disease as of November 15, the Canola Council of Canada said on Monday.

China has also not shown any willingness to consider alternative steps to reduce the risk of importing Canadian canola with blackleg disease, such as transferring canola from vessels directly into crushing plant silos. Such a move would essentially segregate Canadian canola from China's rapeseed, the council said.

"It's not a position that's acceptable to Canada's canola industry," said Canola Council spokeswoman Debbie Belanger, adding that Canada has shipped about 10 million tonnes of canola to China in the past 10 years without any reports of blackleg disease being transferred from the Canadian seed to Chinese rapeseed crop.

Blackleg, a disease caused by a fungus that can kill the canola plant but has no human health risk, is not a major threat to Canadian crops because of resistant crop varieties. However, it is commonly found on canola seed.

Blackleg is present in China, but the Chinese government maintains it is a less serious form than the disease in Canada.

The November 15 deadline refers to the date of shipment from Canada.

Talks between Canada and China are scheduled to continue this week, the Canola Council said.

Earlier on Monday, Canadian agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said he was hopeful of a resolution as early as this week.   Continued...