EU relaxes tolerances on glyphosate residue in lentils

Canadian lentil growers wanting to use glyphosate this year as a pre-harvest treatment are expected to benefit as a particularly tough customer raises its maximum residue limits.

The European Union (EU), effective June 14, has revised its limit on glyphosate residue in lentil imports to 10 parts per million (ppm), up from its much tighter previous residue limit of 0.1. ppm.

"Primarily this is great news for lentil growers in Canada, as it will greatly reduce market access risk for their crops and will also provide them with more options for crop protection products this year," Morgan Nunweiler, a Kindersley, Sask. farmer and chairman of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, said in a release Monday.

"On a broader level, this is a positive example of the power of working together with national and international partners to overcome market access problems," SPG executive director Carl Potts said in the same release.

"However, we continue to encourage growers to consult with pulse buyers to ensure the use of glyphosate or other pre-harvest crop protection products will not impede marketability of pulse crops and to always carefully follow label directions."

The EU’s new maximum residue limit (MRL) comes over a year after the issue was first raised, when a shipment of organic lentils from Turkey was tested and found to exceed the EU’s 0.1-ppm tolerance for glyphosate.

Canadian exporters had shipped 118,000 tonnes of lentils, worth $111 million, to the EU in 2010, making the European bloc Canada’s second largest total lentil export market after Turkey.

Pulse Canada, the national pulse industry body, said it has since worked with international pulse players — including the U.S.A. Dry Pea and Lentil Council, the International Pulse Trade and Industry Confederation (CICILS-IPTIC), the London-based Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA) and European industry group COCERAL — along with glyphosate maker Monsanto to help bring an application for a revised MRL through the EU’s regulatory process.

Pulse Canada said it’s also working to establish an MRL for glyphosate in lentil at Codex Alimentarius, which is expected to have an MRL for lentils established next month.

Many pulse-importing countries refer to Codex for import requirements when they don’t have their own standards, SPG noted Monday.

Canada’s own MRL for lentils in the domestic market is four ppm; in the U.S., the MRL for glyphosate in lentils is eight ppm.

Lentil growers should always follow label directions regarding rates and timing and take care to ensure they comply with Canadian laws for selling lentils, the SPG said Monday.

Related stories:
EU’s glyphosate tolerances loom over lentil trade, April 12, 2011
New-crop Prairie lentils seeing weak demand, June 22, 2012

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