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Jan 20, 2010

Canada - Cleaning Up Trace GM Flax in its Flax Exports

GE Flax known as "Triffid"
was deregisterd in Canada in 2001
photo courtesy of CBC
On 20 January 2010 CBC News reported on Canadian efforts to resolve the contamination of Canadian flax exports with genetically modified (GM) flax.

Canada's $320-million flax industry has been hit hard by the discovery of cross contamination with a Triffid a variety of GM flax that was banned in Canada in 2001.

The Canadian Grain Commission, Flax Council of Canada, and Canadian farmers are daunted by the challenge posed by the European Union's 0.01 tolerance level.  This means that potentially only one in every 10,000 flax seeds could be cause for the contamination. 

Barry Hall, President of the Flax Council of Canada, based in Winnipeg, has said, "I'm quite certain as we start to test the certified seed, there will be other varieties that will show contamination. ... There's no question this will change the industry forever."

The industry has implemented a three prong attack consisting of: 
  1. farm samples are tested
  2. rail cars are tested
  3. as the vessel is loaded, samples are drawn and tested by the Canadian Grain Commission
Hall added, "The worst-case scenario for flax producers is that the industry will shut down for three to five years to purge whatever seed is already growing... Eventually, contaminated seeds will be taken off the market and destroyed."

For more see related blog:

Canada Moves to Revive Flax Exports After GE Contamination Shut Down, 18 Janaury 2010. 

For original article see:

 "Triffid seed threatens flax industry," CBC News, 20 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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