RMD-11-06: Pest Risk Management Document for Cuphea viscosissima X Cuphea lanceolata Hybrid in Canada

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Issued: 2012-05-03


As described by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) includes three stages: initiation, pest risk assessment and pest risk management. Initiating the PRA process involves identifying pests and pathways of concern and defining the PRA area. Pest risk assessment provides the scientific basis for the overall management of risk. Pest risk management is the process of identifying and evaluating potential mitigation measures which may be applied to reduce the identified pest risk to acceptable levels and selecting appropriate measures.

This Risk Management Document (RMD) includes a summary of the findings of a pest risk assessment and records the pest risk management process for the identified issue. It is consistent with the principles, terminology and guidelines provided in the IPPC standards for pest risk analysis.

Cuphea viscosissima
Cuphea viscosissima – This photo depicts the stem of a Cuphea viscosissima plant with two purple flowers, numerous buds and three leaves.
Cuphea lanceolata
Cuphea lanceolata – This photo depicts the stem of Cuphea lanceolata plant with numerous leaves, one flower and two buds.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

The cuphea hybrid is comprised of Cuphea viscosissima Jacq. x Cuphea lanceolata W. T. Aiton (MYRTALES: Lythraceae). It is not known to occur in Canada. The parent species are both native to North America but not found in Canada. The distribution of C. viscosissima is limited to the eastern United States (U.S.) while C. lanceolata is found in north-eastern and central Mexico. The intentional movement and planting of the cuphea hybrid as a new crop is recognized as the primary potential pathway for entry into Canada. The cuphea hybrid was developed in the U.S. in the late 1980's. There is economic interest in the hybrid as it produces seeds containing medium-chain fatty acids comparable to those currently provided by coconut and palm oil. Medium-chain fatty acids are used in the creation of a variety of products such as soaps, detergents, confections, lubricants and cosmetic products.

A Pest Risk Assessment was completed in 2008 and determined the risk to Canada from the cuphea hybrid is low, however it cautions that there is currently a general lack of biological data available on this new hybrid.

There is potential for the cultivation of the cuphea hybrid to result in the introduction and spread of this species in Canada, however the economic and environmental impacts associated with this species are anticipated to be low. Following stakeholder consultation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has decided not to regulate Cuphea viscosissima Jacq. x Cuphea lanceolata W. T. Aiton as a pest for Canada.

1.0 Purpose

To record the final risk management decision not to regulate Cuphea viscosissima x Cuphea lanceolata.

2.0 Scope

This Risk Management Document (RMD) records the CFIA's decision not to regulate Cuphea viscosissima x Cuphea lanceolata (referred to hereafter as cuphea hybrid) as a pest for Canada.

Information pertaining to current import requirements for specific plants or plant products may be obtained from the CFIA Automated Import Reference System.

3.0 Definitions, abbreviations and acronyms

The definitions of terms used in this document can be found in the Plant Health Glossary of Terms or in the IPPC glossary of phytosanitary terms.

4.0 Background

Invasive plants are those plant species that spread when introduced outside of their natural past or present distribution and cause serious and often irreversible damage to Canada's ecosystems, economy and society.

The CFIA prevents the introduction and spread of some invasive plants in Canada, those regulated as pests under the Plant Protection Act and designated as prohibited noxious weeds under the Seeds Act.

The CFIA is evaluating and, where appropriate, restricting the importation and spread of pest plants and prohibited noxious weeds as part of its mandate to protect Canada's plant resource base and its commitment to limit the introduction and spread of invasive plants under An Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada (Government of Canada, 2004).

The development of the fertile cuphea hybrid started in the U.S. in the late 1980s. The cuphea hybrid produces seeds containing medium-chain fatty acids comparable to those currently provided by coconut and palm oil. Medium-chain fatty acids are used in the creation of a variety of products such as soaps, detergents, confections, lubricants and cosmetic products.

In 2008, a Canadian importer, who wanted to develop the cuphea hybrid as a crop, made a request to the CFIA to import seeds into Canada. A CFIA pest risk assessment determined that the introduction of this hybrid is of low risk to Canada's environment and economy (section 5). However, the risk assessment noted that there was little scientific information currently available on the cuphea hybrid. Hence, the CFIA restricted the importation of the cuphea hybrid into Canada until such a time when more information is available.

The CFIA did allow the importation of the cuphea hybrid under section 43 of the Plant Protection Act so that the importer could conductfield trials following strict containment conditions. The field trials took place in New Brunswick from the spring of 2008 to the fall of 2010 and in Prince Edward Island in 2009 and 2010. The field trials were monitored by the CFIA's Plant Biosafety Office.

The data collected in these field trials further supported the conclusions of the risk assessment, namely that the cuphea hybrid crop presented little risk to Canada's plant resources. Based on the risk assessment and this additional information, the CFIA is removing the restrictions on importation and will allow the importation and cultivation of the cuphea hybrid in Canada.

5.0 Pest Risk Assessment Summary

The below summary information in taken from the pest risk assessment conducted by the CFIA's Plant and Biotechnology Risk Assessment Unit.

5.1 Identity of the organism

Cuphea viscosissima Jacq. x Cuphea lanceolata W. T. Aiton (MYRTALES: Lythraceae)

Cuphea hybrid seeds can easily be visually distinguished from other oilseed crops, even without the aid of a microscope. The flat, coin-like shape is distinct compared to any other oilseed crop. Flax seeds are flat, but the shape is different and the seeds are much lighter.

5.2 Status of the organism

The Pest Risk Assessment area is considered to be all of Canada. No evidence was found that the cuphea hybrid has been cultivated in Canada outside of the confined field trials in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The parent species are also absent from Canada. There is a historical record from 1890 of C. viscosissima from southern Ontario where it was introduced but did not establish. C. lanceolata has never been reported in Canada in the wild, although it was grown in trials in Edmonton, Alberta in 2003. For the purposes of this risk assessment, the cuphea hybrid is considered absent from Canada.

5.3 Current regulatory status

The CFIA has decided not to regulate cuphea hybrid as a pest in Canada. Currently, it is not regulated provincially. It is not regulated in the U.S.

5.4 Probability of entry

The main pathway for introduction of the cuphea hybrid into Canada would be through intentional importation. No evidence was found in the published literature or on the internet that indicates that the cuphea hybrid has been previously imported and/or cultivated in Canada, outside of the contained field trials conducted by the importer in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

5.5 Probability of establishment

The cuphea hybrid favours temperate climates with short days. Information from trials of the cuphea hybrid in the U.S. suggests that it could be grown as a crop up to and including USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3, which includes a large zone across the southern portion of Canada and the entire maritime region with the exception of part of Labrador (Figure 1). The majority of Canada's cultivated land is located within these hardiness zones. Despite its ability to grow as a crop in these regions, and even to form volunteers in subsequent years, it is not clear if the cuphea hybrid could establish long-term populations.

Based on the objectives of the current breeding program, which is aimed at improving agronomic traits, it seems unlikely that lines developed in the near future will be hardier, more vigorous, or have a significantly greater potential for invasiveness than current lines. However, the objectives of breeding programs may change over time, leading to the selection of different suites of biological characteristics that may increase the invasive potential of this plant. Periodic updates of the risk assessment may be warranted to follow the process of breeding and domestication of this crop and changes in its potential to become invasive.

One of the parent species, Cuphea lanceolata, has been grown in field trials in Edmonton. The species was considered generally adaptable to Alberta conditions; however, late germination and late maturity were observed, and species did not tolerate frost. In Canada, no records of trials of the cuphea hybrid beyond the Atlantic Provinces were found.

Figure 1. Map of NAPPFAST Plant Hardiness Zones 3-11
Figure 1. Map of NAPPFAST Plant Hardiness Zones 3-11

This figure shows a map of the NAPPFAST (www.nappfast.org) Plant Hardiness Zones 3-11 in North America and the approximate location of the United States cuphea hybrid trail sites including one in Oregon, one in North Dakota, four in Minnesota, four in Iowa and one in Illinois. (Forcella et al. 2005, Kim et al. 2011, Knapp and Crane 2000)

5.6 Probability of spread

The cuphea hybrid is a tender plant with variable germination and slow growth until mid-summer. It does not compete strongly with weeds. One of the parent species, C. viscosissima, is described as a weed in a few of the sources of information on invasive plants but does not appear to be a major invader of concern. It is more common in the south-eastern states than the north-eastern states and, despite being present in several states bordering Canada, has never established here. Cuphea lanceolata, the second parent species, is not an invader of concern, and has a more tropical native distribution.

The cuphea hybrid has the potential to produce high seed yields but dispersal potential appears to be low. Breeding and selection are aimed at producing self-fertile plants with non-dormant, non-shattering seed. C. viscosissima x C. lanceolata f. silenoides PSR23, a genetic line that is currently being used in field trials, exhibits these characteristics to a partial degree. Furthermore, cuphea hybrid seedlings exhibit low vigour and do not compete well with weeds and other crop plants.

Based on this suite of characteristics, and on the biological attributes of the cuphea hybrid and its parent species, it seems unlikely that the cuphea hybrid will become a weedy invader in Canada.

5.7 Potential economic consequences

The cuphea hybrid has potential positive economic impacts as an oilseed crop. No negative potential economic impacts were identified from the available information. Yield, quality, value and marketability of other crops are not expected to be impacted by the cuphea hybrid. One of the parent species, C. viscosissima, has been described as a weed in several sources of literature in Mexico and parts of the U.S., and has some undesirable traits, including lack of palatability to cattle, heavy use of water and nutrient resources, and general stickiness (Georgia 1923). The other parent, C. lanceolata, is described as a casual alien in its introduced range. However, neither of these appears to cause serious negative economic impacts on agricultural or other systems. No information on potential negative economic impact of the cuphea hybrid was found.

5.8 Potential environmental and social consequences

In Canada, the Cuphea hybrid would be grown as a crop. Since the intention is to grow the cuphea hybrid under cultivation, and it is unlikely to spread aggressively into natural areas due to its biological characteristics, the potential environmental impacts of this species appear to be low. In trials in the U.S., it has not escaped cultivation and produces few volunteers in subsequent growing seasons. No information on potential negative environmental impact of the cuphea hybrid was found.

5.9 Introduction of regulated plant pests

There are no reports in the literature to indicate that there are quarantine or potential quarantine pathogens, anthropods, or molluscan pests associated with C. viscosissima, C. lanceolata,or the hybrid. On the contrary, the sticky hairs of the cuphea hybrid may provide a defence against insect pests. Many insects, including aphids, are immobilized by these hairs (Knapp, 1993).

5.10 Additional information from field trials

According to the data collected by the importer in the three years of field trials, the cuphea hybrid was difficult to establish in New Brunswick's climate, even under conditions that were generally favourable. Seed germination was low, the plants were not strong and did not withstand weed competition very well. Yields were very poor, even nil, in some trials. All the cultivation trials were destroyed during, or at the end of, the growing season. No volunteer plants were found in the seeded plots in 2008 and 2009.

According to this additional information, the potential of the cuphea hybrid establishing would be lower than estimated. The field trials confirm that seed germination was low and the cultivation was not very strong.

The field trials did not definitively determine the potential of the cuphea hybrid to invade natural habitats or its methods of dispersal or their respective importance. It is hard to determine if the absence of volunteer seeds on the trial plots resulted more from poor seed germination than from the seed bank that was not able to establish itself because few or no plants flourished during the trial year. It is also important to note that the field trials were not led by a recognised research establishment, following a classic experimental protocol.

In spite of these latter considerations, the weight of the evidence suggests that there is little risk that the plant would become invasive in Canada. Additional development work may be necessary before achieving a productive cuphea hybrid crop in Canada.

5.11 Conclusion

No specific phytosanitary measures may be necessary. However, the uncertainty associated with the risk of invasiveness of the cuphea hybrid is high because it is a new crop and its potential to become invasive or to spread associated pests has not yet been well studied. While the limited information on the biological characteristics suggests that the cuphea hybrid poses low risk, it is uncertain how the hybrid would behave as an alien species in Canada.

6.0 Pest Risk Management Considerations

This section explains and documents those aspects that the CFIA took into consideration when the decision was made not to regulate either the importation or the cultivation of the cuphea hybrid in Canada under the Plant Protection Act.

6.1 Introduction

This document summarizes the rationale in determining the regulatory status of the plant. It outlines the possible phytosanitary requirements for traded commodities. The commodities may be the plant itself (intentional introduction) or a product contaminated with the plant (unintentional introduction).

6.2 International Responsibilities, Government of Canada Priorities and CFIA Objectives

The CFIA plays an important role in protecting Canada's plant resource base from pests and diseases. The objectives of the Plant Protection Program within the CFIA are:

  1. to prevent the introduction and spread within Canada of plant pests of quarantine significance, including invasive plants;
  2. to detect and control or eradicate designated plant pests in Canada; and
  3. to certify plant and plant products for domestic and export trade.

Canada is a contracting party to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The IPPC is an international treaty that secures action to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products (including plants as pests), and promotes appropriate measures for their control. The CFIA is Canada's official National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) responsible for implementing the standards of the IPPC and administering the Plant Protection Act (1990, c. 22), Plant Protection Regulations (SOR/950212), Seeds Act (R.S., 1985, c. S-8) and Weed Seeds Order (SOR/2005-220).

The Plant Protection Act (1990, c. 22) provides authority to prevent the importation, exportation and spread of pests injurious to plants, provides for control and eradication methods, and for the issuance of certificates.

In 1996, in response to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Canada developed the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy, which recognizes the need to take all necessary steps to prevent the introduction of harmful alien organisms and to mitigate or eliminate their adverse effects. As party to these international and national instruments, Canada has a strong commitment to addressing the deleterious impacts of invasive plants.

Additionally, in September 2004 Canada introduced An Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada, aimed to minimize the risk of invasive alien species (IAS) to the environment, economy, and society, and to protect environmental values such as biodiversity and sustainability. The CFIA provides leadership in the implementation of the national IAS strategy as it relates to invasive plants and plant pests.

6.3 Values at risk

According to the pest risk assessment and the contained field trials carried out in Canada, the overall risk to the environment and the economy presented by the cuphea hybrid is low.

6.4 Economic benefits

This new crop shows potential for Canadian agriculture. The cuphea hybrid could become a possible new source of revenue for Canadian farmers.

This new source of medium-chain fatty acids could also promote a new industry in Canada, which would have favourable regional economic benefits and which would also reduce Canada's dependence on imported medium-chain fatty acids such as palm and coconut oil.

Based on 2003 data, the world market for lauric oil was estimated at 4.5 million tons, with the U.S. consuming approximately 1.5 million tons, which was valued at more than $500 million USD (Coram 2005). To meet its overall needs for medium-chain fatty acids, the U.S. purchases approximately $1.5 billion USD worth of palm and coconut oils to cover about half its requirements; the other half comes from petroleum (Comis 2008). The successful domestication of cuphea should allow North America to capture some of the market for medium-chain fatty acid-rich oils and reduce reliance on imported oils (Knapp 1993).

There has also been some interest in cultivating Cuphea spp. in Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands (Meakin 2007, van Soest 1993), though the genus is still in the early stages of development. The genus Cuphea does not appear to be a concern to trading partners.

7.0 Pest Risk Management Options Considered

Table 1. Advantages and disadvantages of pest risk options
Options Advantages Disadvantages
1. Add the cuphea hybrid to the List of Pest Regulated by Canada and regulate it under the Plant Protection Act and Regulations:

Prohibit the importation of the cuphea hybrid

Eradication of cuphea hybrid from trial sites

Maximum reduction of phytosanitary risks – application of the precautionary principle given the high level of uncertainty

Control of all pathways of entry

Authority to intervene against incursions by implementing control measures

Costs borne by the importer for the eradication and follow-up of trial plots

Costs assumed by the CFIA to administer and implement eradication measures

Costs assumed by the CFIA for verification of the market, monitoring, the training of inspectors, the communication materials and sampling

Loss of economic opportunity related to the introduction of a new industrial crop

2. Status quo – Restrict the importation of the cuphea hybrid and conduct field trial research to obtain more information Reduction of phytosanitary risks – applying the precautionary principle

Opportunity for the importer to continue developing the new crop and to collect more information

Costs assumed by the CFIA for monitoring the contained trial sites and the administration of the file.

Costs assumed by the importer to meet the conditions of containment and to obtain the Permit to Import

Possibility that the field trials would not yield more useful information

3. Do not add the cuphea hybrid to the List of Pests Regulated by Canada or regulate it under the Plant Protection Act:

Lifting the restrictions to importation and of the cultivation containment conditions in the field

Possibility of developing and introducing a new oilseed industrial crop in Canada, as well as the subsequent economic benefits

No additional cost to those who wish to develop this crop

As with any introduced plant, there is uncertainty associated with its risk and the potential for breeding programs to develop hardier varieties.

8.0 Risk Management Decision

8.1 Decision

  • By way of this Risk Management Document, the CFIA announces its decision not to proceed with the regulation of the hybrid cuphea as a pest under the Plant Protection Act in Canada.
  • Stakeholder comments received in response to the September 2011 consultation were generally supportive of the decision.
  • The CFIA has selected Option 3 – removing the current restrictions on the importation and cultivation of the cuphea hybrid.
  • According to available scientific information and field trial results, the cuphea hybrid presents a low risk to the Canadian plant resource base.
  • Maintaining current restrictions and containment measures in the field is an option that would be resource intensive for the CFIA, the importers and growers.
  • The benefits of the new industry it created may be worth more than the costs of regulating it as a new potential invasive.
  • The costs related to its eradication and/or control may be more than the loss of opportunity associated with the prohibition of this new crop.
  • While the potential for introduction and spread within Canada exists, the economic and environmental impacts associated with this species are considered to be low.

Other considerations:

The cuphea hybrid is not currently listed on the Weeds Seeds Order of the Seeds Act, but it could be subject to an eventual inclusion.

8.2 Re-evaluation of the Risk Management Decision

The CFIA will review the risk management as new information becomes available to ensure that the action being taken is still appropriate. Potential triggers for a review of the risk management decision are:

  • (1) new information becomes available about the invasiveness of the species,
  • (2) new incursions in Canada occur,
  • (3) the species' world distribution changes, and
  • (4) Canadian international trade patterns change.

The extent of the review and potential amendments will be determined by the nature of the new information. In some instances, additional consultation with stakeholders will be required. Amendments are recorded in Appendix 1.

9.0 References

Relevant Legislation

  • Feeds Act (R.S., 1985, c. F-9)
  • Feeds Regulations, 1983 (SOR/83-593)
  • Food and Drugs Act (R.S., 1985, c. F-27)
  • Health of Animals Act (1990, c. 21)
  • Plant Protection Act (S.C. 1990, c. 22)
  • Plant Protection Regulations (SOR/95-212)
  • Seeds Act (R.S., 1985, c. S-8)
  • Seeds Regulations (C.R.C., c. 1400)
  • Weed Seeds Order 2005 (SOR/2005-220)

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Weber E, 2003. Invasive Plant Species of the World: A Reference Guide to Environmental Weeds. CAB International, Cambridge, MA.

White, G.A., J.C. Gardner and C.G. Cook.1994. Biodiversity for industrial crop development in the United States. Industrial Crops and Products 2: 259: 272. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). 1990. Directive APHD-DSAE-IE-2001-1-1: Integument products (leather, skins, furs, stuffed animals, trophies, wool and feathers.) CFIA, Ottawa, ON

10.0 Endorsement

Approved by:

Chief Plant Health Officer

Appendix 1: Consultation

The following stakeholders were consulted:

  1. Federal agencies or official organizations
  2. Provincial departments
  3. Industry
  4. Other organizations including but not limited to,
    • Invasive Plants Councils
    • Academia
    • Non governmental associations

Significant support for this regulatory decision was received through responses from provincial and federal departments and other stakeholders. Suggested comments and revisions were included in this document where appropriate.

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