China blocks canola shipments from Viterra, saying pests found among the grain

News source from CTV News

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Published Tuesday, March 26, 2019 11:30AM EDT

Last Updated Tuesday, March 26, 2019 12:08PM EDT

China blocked canola shipments from a second Canada-based producer on Tuesday over alleged contamination issues, a move that has prompted Ottawa to consider dispatching a delegation to the Asian country.

A statement on China’s General Administration of Customs website said officials detected several hazardous organisms in canola shipments from Regina-based Viterra Inc.

Canola shipments from Viterra are now blocked, it said.

Viterra, which is part of Glencore Agriculture, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It is the second company to have its canola seed shipments blocked this month. Winnipeg-based Richardson International Ltd. had its export permit revoked in March due to hazardous organisms allegedly found in the company’s product.

Since then, the Canola Council of Canada said all its members that export canola to China have reported that Chinese importers are currently unwilling to purchase their products.

China is a major market for Canadian canola and accounts for about 40 per cent of Canada’s exports of canola seed, oil and meal.

“Obviously we have seen a certain amount of challenges in our relationship with China over sort of diplomatic issues and indeed the rule of law,” said Trudeau.

Some have suggested the canola ban is connected to the Canadian government’s decision to arrest a top Chinese tech executive in December at the behest of the Americans. Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver and the government has since approved for her extradition case to proceed.

“But we are taking very seriously this situation around canola as well,” said Trudeau, adding he’s held meetings with the Canola Council of Canada president and plans to meet with a Richardson executive later Tuesday.

We’re continuing to work very hard and we will have much more to do in the coming weeks and months as we try to resolve it, he said.

“We’re very much looking at the possibility of sending a high-level delegation to China,” he said.

“We know that the canola produced here in Canada is top quality, and the oversight, inspection and science that surrounds what we do here is top notch and world class, and that is certainly something that we are going to continue to impress upon … our Chinese interlocutors on this issue.”

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