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Minor Use Pesticide Program Helps Farmers Gain Access to Pest Management Solutions

Colleen Flynn, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development

Canadian farmers produce high-yielding, top-quality crops and the effective use of pest control products in an integrated pest management system can contribute to this success. The Minor Use Pesticide Program can add new or improved pest management tools to the toolbox, improving farmers’ ability to address current pest issues.

What is a Minor Use Pesticide?

A minor use pesticide is a pest control product (herbicide, insecticide, fungicide, nematicide or biopesticide) that is used in such small quantities that the sales potential is not sufficient enough to persuade a manufacturer to register and sell the product in Canada. The use of a pest control product could be considered a minor use because the area seeded is small on a national or regional basis. In addition, a minor use may be registered on a major crop (i.e., canola, wheat, soybeans, corn) because the use may be needed only occasionally, or is limited to a small percentage of the total crop area.

What is the Minor Use Pesticide Program (MUPP)?

The Pest Management Centre’s (PMC) Minor Use Pesticide Program is a joint initiative between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). AAFC and PMRA provide regulatory advice that supports growers and grower associations in identifying priorities for new minor use registrations in Canada. PMRA works with the provinces to assist in addressing regional minor use needs. They provide information about the data necessary for registration. The U.S. has a similar minor use system called the Interregional Research Project # 4 (IR-4).

Why are Minor Use Pesticides Important to Farmers?

The objective of the Minor Use Pesticide Program is to increase farmers’ competi­tiveness by improving access to new and effective pest control options. These benefits should be available regardless of the area seeded to the crop on a national or regional basis.

Farmers should provide feedback on pest management issues to their commodity groups, registrants and Pesticide Minor Use Coordinators (PMUC). Collaboration with growers across Canada and the US have benefited farmers across North America, not only improving awareness of common issues, but helping to secure much needed pest control products on minor and specialty crops.

What Data is Required to Register a Minor Use product?

The Minor Use Pesticide Program uses field and greenhouse trials from AAFC research centres as well as data generated by registrants, universities and private researchers and provincial specialists. Data typically collected and analyzed includes information on product efficacy, crop tolerance, residue data and occupational exposure. Data and results are then submitted to PMRA for review. The time frame for a product making it all the way through the minor use system is usually three to five years, but sometimes it is longer.

Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) Data is also Collected – Why is this Important?

“A maximum residue limit (MRL) is the maximum amount of residue that is expected to remain on food products when a pesticide is used according to label directions. These are set at levels well below the amount that can pose a health concern and are established for each combination of pesticide and treated agricultural product” (Health Canada, 2019).

Canadian crops have to meet the MRLs set by destination countries to avoid trade disruptions. Pulse Canada clearly outlines market considerations of crop protection choices for use on pulse crops as part of the Keeping It Clean initiative (visit www.keepingitclean.ca).

There are several ways farmers can manage their own MRLs, including:

  • Only use pesticides that are registered for the crop in Canada, so it will not create trade concerns.
  • Talk to your grain/seed buyer to make sure the products you are using are acceptable to both domestic and export customers.
  • Always read the product label and follow the directions for use and precautions for pest control products. Follow the label for rate, timing, application intervals and pre-harvest interval (the number of days that must pass between the application of a pesticide and crop harvest) to make certain residues in the harvested product won’t exceed the MRL.

What is the Role of your Provincial Minor Use Coordinator (PMUC)?

All provinces have a provincial minor use coordinator that represents user interests on pesticide registrations. They work with the commodity associations that have a stake in minor use. The issues raised in our consultations provide a basis for Manitoba’s priority list. Our PMUC records Manitoba’s priorities on the National Minor Use Needs list. All stakeholders then review the national list at the annual Canadian Pest Management Priority Setting workshop. At the meeting, stakeholders decide which priorities move forward. Attendance by Manitoba’s PMUC helps ensure Manitoba’s priorities are recognized. The minor use coordinator provides a role in the discussions and the selection of priority projects. Each region can have several grower groups participate in the National meetings and the PMUC coordinates their attendance.

Under special circumstances, Provincial Minor Use Coordinators can request consideration for an Emergency Use Registration (EUR) from PMRA. That can be used when no other effective method of control exists to address a pest infestation. In almost all cases where an emergency use registration exists, there should be either Minor Use Pesticide Program effort or registrant effort underway to secure a full minor use registration so that the emergency use is not repeated.

What happens at the National Canadian Pest Management Priority Setting Meeting?

This year’s priority-setting meeting is on March 24–26, 2020, in Gatineau, Quebec. There are representatives from provincial and national commodity associations, crop protection companies, US IR-4, PMRA personnel, researchers and provincial crop specialists. It is an opportunity for commodity associations to lobby for the necessary research to support minor use submissions that address the pest issues facing their sector. Minor use priority projects are selected to be funded by AAFC and the PMC for eventual submission to the PMRA. Each day is a different session covering entomology, pathology and weeds. Biopesticides and organic priorities are also included in the priority-setting process.

What is involved in Label Expansions within the Minor Use Pesticide Program?

User-Requested Minor Use Label Expansion (URMULE) requires registrant support and the manufacturer must be willing to add the new use to the product label. The product must also be registered in Canada on at least one crop and in a similar use-site category such as field-grown crops or greenhouse-grown crops. A crucial requirement for label expansions is to determine if crop residue data is required for the registration of a specific active ingredient. If residue data is needed for a particular pest/crop combination, this URMULE goes on the national priority list, where it can be chosen at the priority setting meeting. The URMULE is only considered if the products are efficacious and there are acceptable levels of risk. Note that registrants can also add new minor uses to their product labels by making submissions directly to PMRA.

For more information visit: http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/science-and-innovation/agriculture-and-agri-food-research-centres-and-collections/ontario/pest-management-centre/minor-use-pesticides-at-the-pest-management-centre/?id=1286197216280 and http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/minoruse/aboutminoruse.html

Who is the Prairie Pesticide Minor Use Consortium?

On the prairies, we also have a Prairie Pesticide Minor Use Consortium (PPMUC). The purpose of the PPMUC is to facilitate, coordinate and procure pest management solutions for grower organization members. They work with members to gather additional information specific to grower group priorities and feed into AAFC’s Minor Use Pesticide Program. They collaborate with AAFC, PMRA and Provincial Minor Use Coordinators. Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers is currently one of the many members of this organization.

In summary, the Minor Use Pesticide Program attempts to increase grower competitiveness by improving access to new and effective crop protection tools. It is important that farmers participate in this system by providing feedback on pest management issues to their commodity groups, registrants and Provincial Minor Use Coordinators.