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Regulatory Requirements for Labelling Weed Species in Ground Cover Mixtures

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In order to protect seed purchasers, the agricultural system, and the environment in Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (the CFIA) administers national regulations specifying standards for seed quality and the labelling of seed in Canada. In addition, the Weed Seeds Order (WSO) lists the species of plants, the seeds of which are considered weed seeds for the purposes of the Seeds Act. Provincial governments also make regulations for the control of weeds and weed seeds within their jurisdictions.

As ground cover mixtures are typically made up of a number of grasses and fine-seeded species and are intended for use over large areas, sometimes in remote locations, it is prudent to control the risk of introduction of weedy species through the pathway of seed of ground cover mixtures federally and provincially.

Provincial Weed Seed Regulations

Provincial governments have their own legislative and regulatory mechanisms for the control of weeds and weed seeds. For instance, the province of Alberta's Weed Control Regulation establishes a list of prohibited noxious and noxious weeds for Alberta. Provincial regulations also provide for municipalities to designate plants as weeds within their jurisdictions.

Federal Weed Seed Regulations

The federal Seeds Regulations (the Regulations) specify that seed may not contain any seeds of species identified on the federal WSO as a prohibited noxious weed. Weed seeds are further identified in the WSO as primary noxious, secondary noxious and noxious weed seeds. These designations are applied in the grading of seed where quality standards specify the maximum number and species of weed seeds permitted in a sample of a seed lot intended for import into Canada and/or sale in Canada.

Section 29 of the Regulations describes the requirements for labelling ground cover mixtures and subparagraph 29(2)(c)(ii) is intended to provide a linkage between the national and provincial regulations for weeds and weed seeds.

In all cases, however, the seller is required to indicate the provincially regulated noxious and restricted weeds on the label, whether or not the information on the components of the mixture that make up five percent or more appears on the label.

This protects the purchaser of the seed and satisfies provincial government controls on the introduction of undesirable weeds. The requirement to label species that are on any provincial list ensures that the weedy species are identified to the purchaser no matter the province to which the seed is distributed.

Table 1 Labelling Ground Cover Mixtures -- At-A-Glance
Regulation Condition at Time of Sale Labelling Requirement
29(2)(c)(i) Information on components making up five per cent or more by weight is stated on the label The name of each kind or species in the mix that constitutes five percent or more by weight
29(2)(c)(ii) Information on components making up five per cent or more by weight is not stated on the label Information provided to purchaser upon request includes the name of each kind or species in the mix that constitutes five percent or more by weight
29(2)(c)(ii) Mixture intentionally contains species that are noxious or restricted weeds in any province The names of species that have been intentionally added to the mixture at any percentage which are noxious or restricted weeds in any province.
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