Keeping plants virus-free

Federal ag minister Lawrence MacAulay and Anna-Mary Schmidt, head of grapevine diagnostics

The Centre for Plant Health will be receiving $80 million to replace its aging structure in Sidney, British Columbia. Operated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the new facility is expected to be operational by 2022. 


The Centre is Canada's only post-entry quarantine, research, and diagnostic facility for tree fruit, grapevine, and small fruit. It is recognized internationally for its expertise in post-entry quarantine and is an accredited laboratory and diagnostic testing centre for imports and exports using internationally recognized methods. Many members of the Sidney team are recognized as international experts by plant protection standard setting bodies.


Situated on Vancouver Island, the climate is suited for the culturing of all of Canada's fruit crop and ornamental plants. The Centre maintains an impressive collection of cultivars, highlighting the diverse activities conducted on site. The Centre was originally established in 1912.


Virus and other plant pathogen testing at the Centre is essential to informing the CFIA's regulatory decisions and to protecting Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry. The Centre has been instrumental in safeguarding against plum pox virus and other pests that can devastate crops. Its use of genetic testing has revolutionized how plant diseases are detected.


"The Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN) is very pleased with the renewed commitment to plant health and research by the federal government,” says Hans Buchler, research coordinator, British Columbia Wine Grape Council and chair, Canadian Grapevine Certification Network. “We expect that the modernized CFIA facility in Sidney will greatly contribute to the mitigation of many viral diseases and other pathogens that currently threaten the Canadian grape sector. A first-generation plant repository combined with state-of-the art diagnostic tools and research will greatly enhance the sustainability of many agriculture sectors in the country."

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Publish date: 
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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