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Jan 8, 2010

Canada Revives Flax Exports After EU Shut Down Following GM Contamination

Canada has a $320 million export flax seed industry
On 8 January 2010 Reuters reported that Canada was trying to revive its flax exports after the 2009 EU shipments were shut down due to contamination by genetically modified (GM) material.  The EU traditionally purchased 70 percent of Canada's flax exports. 

The EU decision to halt shipments had serious economic implications for the income of Canadian farmers and the global price of flax seed.  Canada is the world's largest producer and exporter of flax, which is also called linseed. Linseed is traditonally used in baked goods.

For the 2010 season, Canadian exporters are now requiring farmers to plant only certified flax seed. Traditionally they have sown flax from seeds saved from previous harvests.  The new requirements will increase the input costs for Canadian farmers.

The only genetically engineered flax seed is Triffid, also known as FP967.  It was developed in the 1990s by a Canadian university researcher.  It was authorized for use in Canada and the United States.  Lobbyists representing the flax industry were successful in Canada having it deregister in 2001.

GM flax has been detected in Canadian shipments to Japan, the third largest importer of Canadian flax.  Brazil, a much smaller market for Canadian exports has imposed mandatory testing requirements on Canadian flax. 

Canada's 2009 flax harvest of 930,000 tons will be difficult to sell.  This is hamper by logistics as much of this tonnage it is located in Port of Thunder Bay, which is now closed for winter.

The EU contamination rate is set at 0.01 percent tolerance.  Canadian flax exporters would like to see this "extremely tight" level increased.

For more see:

Nickel, Rod. "Canada moves to revive flax exports after GMO flap," Reuters, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 8 January 2010.

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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