Import and release of biological control agents into Canada
Biological control agents are insects, mites, nematodes and other organisms used to control weeds, insects and other plant pests. Despite the projected benefits for managing pests, they can present a risk to the environment by potentially being pests or carriers of pests.
To prevent direct or indirect harm to plant health that may result from using biological control agents, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) sets requirements under the Plant Protection Act that govern their import, handling and release in Canada. These requirements are provided in the CFIA's policy directive D-12-02: Import Requirements for Potentially Injurious Organisms (Other than Plants) to Prevent the Importation of Plant Pests in Canada.
First release of non-indigenous biological control agents
Before a biological control agent can be released into the Canadian environment for the first time, a petition must be submitted to the CFIA requesting its release. The petition must include information about the safety of the organism. For guidance, please see the resources listed below.
Petitions are reviewed by a Biological Control Review Committee, which is coordinated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The committee includes taxonomists, ecologists and other scientists from the federal and provincial governments and Canadian universities.
After the petition is reviewed by the committee, a recommendation is made and considered by the CFIA in its final assessment. The CFIA then communicates its decision to the petitioner.
The following figure illustrates the petition review and assessment process:
The petition process is not required for biological control agents from commercial sources that have already been approved by the CFIA. These Biological Control Agents From Commercial Sources are listed in section 5 of appendix 1 to D-12-02. A plant protection import permit is required to import these approved agents. A permit may be requested using the Application for Permit to Import Plants and Other Things under the Plant Protection Act.
Note: When requesting to import predatory mites, importers must specify on their application the prey mites used as a food source for this biological control agent.
Information and guidance on the petition process are available in:
- Approval process for the first environmental release of biological control agents
- Guide for the first-time importation and release of arthropod biological control agents in Canada
- Guidelines for petition for first release of non-indigenous phytophagous biological control agents
- Guidelines for petition for first release of non-indigenous entomophagous biological control agents
- Guidelines for the export, shipment, import and release of biological control agents and other beneficial organisms
- Questions and answers: wasps as biological control agents for emerald ash borers
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