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Flax contamination soars to 28 countries

1.GM Flax Contamination from Canada Soars to 28 Countries
2.Flax industry, CGC race to trace GMO source
3.Ukraine increased flaxseed production
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1.GM Flax Contamination from Canada Soars to 28 Countries
But Canadian farmers still have no answers
CBAN, October 5 2009

Ottawa - 28 countries, including more European countries as well as Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Thailand, have now been affected by contamination from genetically modified (GM) flax in Canadian exports since contamination was first reported on September 8.

Mere weeks are left before farmers in Canada finish harvesting their flax and yet farmers still don't know the source or full extent of the GM contamination - and it could be weeks before authorities in Canada  confirm any details. Flax prices remain depressed.

GM flax is not approved for human consumption in the following 28 countries where contamination has now reached: Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Czech Republic, Spain, Denmark, Estonia, Norway, Finland, France, Greece, Romania, Portugal, Iceland, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Mauritius. Companies are removing products from the market as the GM flax has been found in cereals, bakery products, bakery mixtures and nut/seed products. 9 GM flax contamination notices have been filed so far through the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed.

European authorities have named the source of contamination as the GM flax "Triffid", which was developed in Canada but was deregistered in 2001 and has been illegal to sell since that time. While there is a test for the Triffid flax available from the company Genetic ID, the Flax Council of Canada is delaying confirmation as it waits for the Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon to develop a new test for Triffid.

"Its been nearly a month since contamination was first found, but neither the Canadian government nor industry has come forward with any answers," said Stewart Wells, President of the National Farmers Union of Canada. "The continued uncertainty and unanswered questions show the need for more strict regulation of GM crops in Canada.”

"Farmers face the threat of unwanted contamination from GM crops, even when the crops are not supposed to be grown," said Arnold Taylor an organic flax grower and Chair of the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate. "Someone's going to have to pay for testing our crops for contamination and any required clean-up. Who will be liable?"

"The Canadian government still refuses to consider market harm when they decide to approve GM crops. This obviously has to change immediately," said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. "The entire regulatory system needs urgent reform or we will see even more widespread market chaos."

For more information:
Stewart Wells, National Farmers Union of Canada,  306 773 6852 or cell: 306 741 7694; Arnold Taylor, Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, cell: 306 241 6126 or 306 252 2783; Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, cell 613 263 9511 or 613 241 2267 ext. 6.
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2.Flax industry, CGC race to trace GMO source
Dwayne Klassen
Resource News International, 1 October 2009
http://www.manitobacooperator.ca/issues/ISArticle.asp?aid=1000342779&PC=FBC&issue=10012009

The Flax Council of Canada, flaxseed exporters and the Canadian Grain Commission have been working extremely hard to identify the source of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) found in a shipment of the commodity to Europe, according to a council official.

The European Union has a zero-tolerance policy for GMOs. The discovery by European labs of the genetic marker in Germany in early September has led to the complete suspension of all Canadian flaxseed imports to Europe, said Barry Hall, president of the Winnipeg-based Flax Council of Canada.

The original shipload of Canadian flaxseed that contained the genetic marker has been unloaded at the Belgian port of Ghent and has been quarantined, Hall said.

European laboratories claim the genetically modified (GM) material in the flaxseed is flax varety FP967, commonly known as CDC Triffid.

Triffid was developed in Canada in the late 1990s by a public research institution, the Crop Development Centre in Saskatoon.

The variety, which would have been Canada's first GM flax, underwent full food, feed and environmental risk assessment analysis and was approved and authorized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and in the U.S.

Triffid certified seed was never sold to produce flax for food, feed or for processing in Canada. The Flax Council, in what’s been called one of the most sophisticated and extensive risk management plans ever adopted, acquired all of the certified seed produced and had it destroyed or crushed domestically.

The council's actions were taken to protect the European market by ensuring that no GMO flax was being produced in Canada. Triffid was later deregistered by the CFIA, in 2001.

The recent discovery of GMO markers is the first occasion where GM material has been found in Canadian flax shipments.

Two thirds

The Flax Council and industry are giving this issue the highest priority in an effort to see Canada's flax trade with Europe resume as soon as possible, Hall said.

Europe represents about 70 per cent of Canada's flax exports. On average between 500,000 to 700,000 tonnes of Canadian flaxseed, or roughly two-thirds of Canada's production, is shipped to European destinations on a crop year basis, private sources estimated.

Steps taken so far include having the CFIA confirm that Triffid flax is safe for food, feed and processing.

The council has also created a Flax Risk Management Team and a number of groups that are working closely with the Canadian government.

The Plant Biotechnology Institute (PBI) in Saskatoon is also in the process of developing a Triffid-specific test, which when developed, will be sent to council-selected laboratories around the world.

The CFIA is also testing certified flax seed stock. To date no positive GMO results have been found.

The CGC, meanwhile, is undertaking a geographic study of existing flax stocks held in commercial positions throughout Canada. All Canadian companies are participating in the study and are sending appropriate samples from their facilities. It’s hoped the CGC study will determine the nature and location of the GMO material.

The CGC said it will also expand its traditional harvest survey of Canada's 2009-10 flax crop to determine if there’s any GM material in this year's crop, and if so, where it is located.

"The Canadian flax industry understands the seriousness of this situation and is acting proactively to identify the source of this marker," Hall stressed.
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3.Ukraine increased flaxseed production
AgriMarket.Info, 30 September 2009 [shortened]
http://www.agrimarket.info/showart.php?id=83562

According to data of АPК-Inform Agency, in the season 2009/10, Ukraine will increase production volumes of oil flax.

In the current season, the sowing areas of the oilseed for the harvest-2009 totaled 49 thsd ha, up 60 % compared to the previous season (19.3 thsd ha).

The high demand for the oilseed in the last season from both the domestic market and export consumers became the main reason of the growth of flaxseed production.

In the current season, the EU banned imports of several varieties of Canadian flaxseed due to contradiction to the European requirements to genetically modified products, that is why, the demand for Ukrainian flaxseed will stay rather high.