WHEREAS the fungus Fusarium graminearum, the most destructive fungal disease of barley and wheat in Canada, has caused severe cereal crop and economic loss in western Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan (an estimated loss of $50 to $100 million annually in wheat and barley); AND WHEREAS Fusarium graminearum causes mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol also known as DON and zearalenone) that reduce the marketability of grain, reduce feed intake and lead to feed refusal by livestock and poultry; AND WHEREAS the presence of deoxynivalenol (DON) in malt barley affects the production of beer by causing gushing or excess foaming when opened, causing most brewing companies to have zero tolerance for DON infected grains; AND WHEREAS while Alberta has identified a zero tolerance for Fusarium graminearum in the Fusarium Graminearum Management Plan, the plan does not apply to the entire industry as it permits feeds containing this fungus to be allowed into the province;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to adopt a zero tolerance policy for Fusarium graminearum, including livestock feed.
Caused by the fungus Fusarium graminearum, fusarium head blight (FHB), is the most destructive fungal disease of barley and duram wheat in Canada. The occurrence and higher severity of FHB in cereal crops in the southern and western regions of Manitoba and southern regions of Saskatchewan is cause for concern. The prevalence and severity of fusarium head blight in these prairie provinces of Canada has caused major economic losses to producers and the grain export industry. Importers of barley have refused to purchase commodities from these provinces. Fusarium graminearum infection greatly decreases yield, grade, seed quality, options and uses. It has been noted that yield losses are greater in wheat than in barley, and that mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol and zearalenone) are produced. These mycotoxins cause an anorexia disorder in animals, generally swine, and cause them to go off their feed. If taken in high quantities the mycotoxins also cause animals to vomit, and other problems can be expected as well. In malting barley, these mycotoxins cause protein changes during the malting and brewing phases that cause the beer to gush when opened. It is estimated that Manitoba now loses between $50 and $100 million each year in wheat and barley due to loss of yield, access to malt and hog feed markets, increased transportation costs associated with sourcing mycotoxin-free grain and other impacts on end-use processing. Further movement west by this disease would be disastrous for the grain-producing regions of Alberta. Alberta is currently classed as being free of Fusarium graminearum outbreaks although trace levels have been found in a few instances. Proactive measures have helped to contain the disease and actions have been taken to eliminate it when it is detected. If FHB were to become established in this province as it is in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, this fungal disease would become a major economic consequence to Albertas cereal industry and livestock feeding industries. AAFRD have developed a plan that defines the prevention and control strategy to reduce the risk of Fusarium graminearum becoming established in Alberta. The plan provides the minimum acceptable standards/requirements for the management of Fusarium graminearum within the province and although the plans objects are to prevent establishment or spread of Fusarium graminearium should it be detected, there is a level of ambiguity. The plan emphasizes the prevention of FHB, and although there is common knowledge that the fungus can be introduced through both seed and feed, there are relaxations when it comes to feed. If the plan is to work, zero tolerance for Fusarium graminearium needs to be established in the entire agricultural sector.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect which deal directly with the issue of prohibiting any fusarium-infected products from entering Alberta. However, on a related issue, delegates to the 2002 Fall Convention did endorse Resolution 4-02F, which calls for provincial funding of producers’ costs for fusarium graminearum testing.