Pesticides must be thoroughly tested and approved by Health Canada before they can be used on food grown or imported into Canada.
Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is responsible for registering pesticide products in Canada after a stringent, evaluation that ensures any risks are acceptable. Pesticides are regulated in Canada using science-based evaluation to ensure they pose minimal risk to human health and the environment.
“Food producers help keep food safe by using and improving on good agricultural and pest management practices. One key practice is to follow pesticide label directions, because they give instructions for the safe and proper use of pesticides. This helps keep residues within the limits, helping ensure a safe food supply. Food producers also participate in a variety of on-farm programs to help put in place effective food safety procedures in their day-to-day operations.” Credit: Health Canada
In addition, products must be shown to have value in pest management, efficacy against target pests, and no adverse side effects to the environment or host plants.
Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs)
In Canada, pesticide products are registered using the lowest dose required to provide the pest control benefit. Field trials are used to establish application rates and frequency, as well as product safety.
In addition, harvested food from these trials is removed and tested for the presence of pesticides. This information supports the establishment of MRLs, which allows agricultural commodities to be traded and helps detect any pesticide misuse.
Three terms are included on the pesticide product label to explain how the farmer, using the pesticide, meets the MRLs.
- Pre-harvest interval (i.e. the period between the last pesticide application and the harvesting of the crop)
- Application timing
- Application rate or use rate
The pre-harvest interval (PHI) interval, application timing and use rate are set based on field research conducted at both the maximum use rate and number of applications. Research is required before product registration, as each PHI is specific to the pesticide, crop, and the intended use pattern.