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Oct 5, 2009

EU Quarantines Canadian Flax Exports Due to GM Flax Contamination

On 5 October 2009 Reuters reported that European Union (EU) import inspectors had found conventional Canadian flax exports contaminated with genetically modified (GM) flax.  In less than one month, 11 shipments have all registered contamination.  All are under quarantine as the EU has not approved the sale of GM flax.

In 2009, Canada produced 915,000 tons of flax. Approximately three-quarters of this usually sells as exports. According to Barry Hall, president of the Flax Council of Canada, "the cash price of flaxseed has fallen sharply, from grain companies making no offers at all to well below the normal price of C$10-C$11 per bushel. The U.S. market remains open to Canadian flax.

The EU maintains a rapid-response online database that is tracking Canadian flax exports.  The 11 contamination reports came from Germany (7), France (2), Sweden (1) and the United Kingdom (1).  Buyers have already distributed it to 24 other countries.  In the EU this includes: Belgium, Czech Republic,
Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Italy, Austria, Portugal and Romania.  Outside the EU this includes: Croatia, Iceland, South Korea, Norway, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mauritius and Switzerland.

European laboratories have concluded that the GM flax is the variety FP967, also known as Triffid.  This is the only GM flax every produced.  It was developed by a Canadian university researcher developed in the 1990s.  It was used in feed and food in the late 1990s.  It was deregistered in Canada in 2001 and most of the seed destroyed.

For more see: Nickel, Rod. "Europe finds GMO in 11 Canada flax shipments," Reuters, 5 October 2009.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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