Weed Seeds Order Review - Proposal for Change
2.0 Background

This page has been archived

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or record-keeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

The Seeds Act and Regulations govern the testing, inspection, quality and sale of seed to facilitate the availability of pure, effective seed for Canadian consumers and export markets. The Weed Seeds Order is a Ministerial order made under the Seeds Act.

Depending on your familiarity with the Seed Program and the Weed Seeds Order you may wish to access the following resources:

  1. Seeds Act and Regulations
  2. Weed Seeds Order
  3. "SCOPING THE ISSUES", Canadian Seed Institute WEED SEEDS ORDER (WSO) WORKSHOP. October 29, 2008.
  4. "INITIATING CHANGE" Canadian Seed Institute WEED SEEDS ORDER (WSO) WORKSHOP II. March 11, 2009.

The Weed Seeds Order (WSO) classifies weed species within six classes for the purposes of establishing purity standards for seed in Canada. The WSO plays a critical role in the prevention of intentional (as a crop) and unintentional (as a seed contaminant) introductions of new weeds into Canada and contributes to the CFIA's mandate of protecting the plant resource base.

Class 1, Prohibited Noxious weed species, are prohibited from all imported and domestic seed in Canada. Classes 2-6 are permitted in seed in restricted quantities which are outlined within Schedule I of the Seeds Regulations. Classification of weed species regulates their movement, thereby helping to slow the spread of weedy species within Canada.

The Seeds Act has listed weed species since 1905. The regulation of seed for purity is an important aspect of seed standards and most countries regulate seed for purity in a similar manner.

2.1 Rationale For Change

The CFIA is proposing a revision of the WSO at this time for several reasons.

Control of the introduction of new weeds is important to Canada's economy and environment. Established weed species increase the cost of crop production. Weedy species introduced into natural areas can reduce biodiversity and habitat. Weeds present as contaminants of seed represent a high risk pathway, as they are placed in an optimum environment for survival.

Prevention of the introduction of new weed species is the most desirable form of control. New species intentionally or unintentionally established in Canada may result in decreased markets for Canadian products. Many of Canada's trading partners are increasing, or in the process of increasing, regulation of weeds as there is an increasing global consideration of plants as pests.

The CFIA must ensure Canadian compliance with international obligations. Therefore, the definition of Class 1 Prohibited Noxious weed species must be aligned with the International Plant Protection Convention's (IPPC) definition of a quarantine pest. Each species listed as a Prohibited Noxious weed must meet the definition of a quarantine pest. Also, stakeholders have expressed a desire for the clarification of the definitions for all the classes of weed species within the WSO. These definitions are CFIA policy and will remain outside of regulations.

Over time, the biological distributions of species change and new potential species of concern are identified. As a result, it is necessary to review the WSO periodically and make necessary changes in order to ensure that the Order remains effective at prohibiting species of concern and controlling the spread of weed species through seed. The WSO was last updated in 2005; therefore, a review of the WSO is needed in order to remove species that no longer meet the definition of a Prohibited Noxious weed species, add new species of concern to the WSO and review the classifications of all species currently listed in the WSO. Changes are required to the current status of listed species as some have been listed for decades and some are now considered crops in regions of the country.

The WSO may be considered to have primarily an agricultural context; however, the Seeds Act applies to all seeds and non-agricultural products must comply with its regulations. Seed products marketed as wildflower mixtures, wildlife baiting mixtures and land reclamation mixtures, for example, are subject to the Seeds Regulations and the WSO. Species listed in the WSO must continue to address the threat of weeds and invasive plants in these market segments.

2.2 Process

The WSO is being updated in order to reflect current species' distributions, add new species of concern to the WSO, fulfill a commitment by the CFIA under the Invasive Alien Species program, and review the classifications of the current species. The CFIA will continue to work with stakeholders on the proposed revisions and will continue to solicit the support of the provinces to co-ordinate the WSO with the provincial and regional weed lists.

There have been two Canadian Seed Institute workshops held (October 2008 and March 2009) to gather information and stakeholder feedback on the WSO. The meeting reports, and background information provided at the workshops, can be found on the National Forum.

Several of the species proposed for inclusion in the WSO are also proposed for regulation by the CFIA under the Plant Protection Act and Regulations as quarantine pests. A separate and distinct consultation in this regard will be undertaken by the CFIA and may occur in a similar timeframe to this WSO consultation. The Weed Seeds Order will however, remain the primary regulatory tool for weeds via the seed pathway.

Date modified: