Maximum residue limits

Canada’s maximum residue limits (MRLs) are set by Health Canada through the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Health Canada sets science-based MRLs to ensure the food Canadians eat is safe and are set at levels well below the amount that could pose health concerns.

When Canada and another trading country do not agree on MRLs, it means the risk assessments conducted in each country differ in the amount of pesticide determined to be acceptable to remain on certain produce when it enters the market. This poses a huge technical barrier for imports and exports.

Without harmonised MRLs, the risk is often too high for growers to venture into new markets. A producer in full compliance of the Canadian pesticide product label can have their crop rejected by the destination country due to residue violation resulting from an MRL set below the Canadian MRL.

The priority to enhance trade in agricultural commodities may not be successful without the work of the PMRA to create MRLs for new registrations, and see they are harmonized around the world. The roles played by the PMRA at Codex are essential. However, the PMRA has been forced to back away from this work at this critical juncture due to severe budget restraints.

CHC's position

  • Canada’s trade negotiators should continue to lobby for science-based MRLs to be harmonized between trading countries to ease this trade barrier on both sides of the border.
  • Canadian horticultural producers support adequate funding of the PMRA so that the agency can continue, not only to do registration and re-evaluation work, but also to provide its expertise in support of science-based harmonization of MRLs.

Current advocacy activities

At every opportunity, the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) has raised MRLs as a potential trade barrier and has called on the Government of Canada through the PMRA to work with other countries to harmonize MRLs. Most recently, CHC raised the issue to both Members of Parliament and Senators House of Commons and Senate Committees.

Previous advocacy activities

  • In July 2017, CHC submitted comments to Global Affairs Canada for a China Free Trade Agreement and for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The comments included a request for the harmonization of science-based MRLs.
  • In June 2017, CHC appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and spoke about non-tariff barriers to trade and the need for harmonized MRLs between countries.

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