Questions and Answers: Weed Seeds Order, 2016

What is the Weed Seeds Order?

The Weed Seeds Order (WSO) is a ministerial order made pursuant to subsection 4(2) of the Seeds Act and plays a critical role in the prevention of the introduction of new weed species into Canada by preventing or limiting the presence of weed species in seed sold in, or imported into Canada. The WSO is the tool used to identify and categorize weed species for the purposes of the import and sale of seed as well as for grading purposes.

How is the WSO used?

Schedule I to the Seeds Regulations provides the standards that must be met in order to sell or import seed into Canada as well as the standards that must be met in order to assign a grade to a seed lot. Schedule I contains twenty-two grade tables, which are each applicable to certain crop kinds. The grade tables indicate the maximum allowable levels of primary, secondary, noxious and other weed seeds, as well as other crop kinds and inert matter. The WSO is used in conjunction with the grade tables as the WSO provides the list of which species are primary noxious, secondary and noxious weed species.

The WSO also provides the list of species which are considered Prohibited Noxious weed species in seed. Section 7(1)(a) of the Seeds Regulations indicates that no seed shall contain Prohibited Noxious weed seeds. It is for this reason that the grade tables do not contain any standards for Class 1 Prohibited Noxious weed seeds; these species are prohibited in all seed through the Regulations.

How were the species listed on WSO, 2016 determined?

The CFIA conducted extensive consultations with stakeholders in order to finalize WSO, 2016. Consultations began with two CFIA-led workshops; the first on October 29, 2008, and the second on March 11, 2009. All consultation documents were distributed by email to the CFIA Seed Section's general stakeholder list that included approximately 2000 recipients.

Following the workshops, two consultative proposals were distributed to stakeholders for comment. The initial consultation began October 23, 2009, and closed February 15, 2010. Responses received were integrated into a revised proposal. The second consultation was conducted between June 17, 2011, and September 15, 2011.

Proposed amendments to the WSO were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on June 30th 2016 for a 75-day comment period. The final version of the revised WSO was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on May 18th, 2016 with a coming into force date of November 1, 2016.

Summary of changes

  1. Addition/Reclassification/Removal of species
    • Over time, the geographic distribution of weed species can change. As it has been over ten years since the last full review of the WSO, many species on the WSO, 2005 were no longer accurately classified within the correct WSO class. Therefore, all species listed on WSO, 2005 were reviewed based on current information. The review resulted in the reclassification of 11 species from Class 1 (Prohibited Noxious Weed Seeds) to Class 2 (Primary Noxious Weed Seeds), 7 species from Class 2 to Class 3 (Secondary Noxious Weed Seeds).
    • During the review of the WSO, the CFIA and stakeholders proposed the addition of new weed species to the WSO. In the end, 16 species were added to Class 1, 16 species were added to Class 2 and 5 species were added to Class 3.
    • Two listings, Camelina spp. and Chicorium intybus were removed from Class 3.
  2. Class 2 applying to all tables
    • The WSO is used in conjunction with the grade tables within Schedule I to the Seeds Regulations in order to determine the grade of seed and whether a seed lot meets import requirements.
    • In WSO, 2005, Class 2 (Primary Noxious Weed Seeds) did not apply to Tables XIV and XV of Schedule I. WSO, 2016 includes the change that Class 2 (Primary Noxious Weed Seeds) applies to all of the grade tables.
    • This was an important change as, although some species were being re-classified from Class 1 to Class 2, it remains critical to minimize the risk of further introductions of these weed species. Without Class 2 applying to all of the grade tables, there was the risk that these Class 2 species could spread through seed.

Training resources

The CFIA's Seed Science and Technology Section (SSTS) has developed seed identification factsheets for all of the species listed on WSO, 2016. These training resources will soon be available online. The Commercial Seed Analysts' Association of Canada (CSAAC) is holding training workshops in 2016 across the country in order to train their seed analyst members.

Regulation of weed species under the Plant Protection Act

In February 2013, the CFIA added several weed species to the List of Pests Regulated in Canada. These species are regulated in all commodities, including seed, with the specific requirements outlined in "D-12-01: Phytosanitary requirements to prevent the introduction of plants regulated as pests in Canada".

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