GFM Network News


Out of step with the people who matter most

Out of step with the people who matter most

A $100,000 study of consumer perceptions of agriculture 
speaks volumes about those asking the questions

Reading Time: 3 minutes The final report to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada from a series of consumer focus groups it commissioned last year is enlightening — but not because of what it tells us about how domestic customers view this country’s agriculture sector. Rather it speaks volumes about the people asking the questions. The final report “Modern agriculture and […] Read more

The symptoms of lameness related to ergot toxicity can be mistaken for foot root in the initial stages, but do not respond to treatment.  Photo: University of Calgary

Were those frozen ears and sore feet caused by a cold winter?

Ergot-contaminated feed is causing a wide range of easily misdiagnosed 
herd health problems in Western Canada

Reading Time: 4 minutes Long, brutally cold Prairie winters could be masking signs of a serious toxin lurking in livestock producers’ feed bins, a University of Calgary veterinary professor warned feed and livestock industry officials recently. Dr. Eugene Janzen, assistant dean of clinical practice, said he was initially perplexed in the winter of 2013 when he observed Alberta feedlot […] Read more


It is impossible to determine whether pelleted feed contains ergot toxins without laboratory testing. The sample on the left contains 230 ppb ergot toxins. The sample on the right contains 38,900 ppb.

Ergot becomes invisible in manufactured feed

Researchers and feed makers say new guidelines for assessing risk are needed

Reading Time: 2 minutes The two pictures of pelleted feed veterinary toxicologist Dr. Barry Blakley put up on the screen at a recent ergot symposium here looked identical. But one had enough toxins in it to kill livestock. The rising levels of ergot in western Canadian cereal grains and forages has turned into a nightmare for the manufactured feed […] Read more

Pigs in a barn.

Dutch farmer finds animal health and welfare go hand in hand

Gerbert Oosterlaken wants animal welfare advocates on his side instead of the opposition

Reading Time: 5 minutes When Gerbert Oosterlaken began designing a new 600-sow barn on his livestock and crop farm in this densely populated district, he wasn’t interested in state-of-the-art production systems. He looked 20 years into the future — one he believes will be driven as much by how well he can get along with his non-farming neighbours as […] Read more


Wim Van Stuyvenberg showing a prototype for a portable euthanizer.

A kinder, gentler way of killing chickens

Mountain View Poultry in Okotoks, Alta. will be among the first to install it

Reading Time: 4 minutes It used to be that if the preacher said he was coming for dinner, a chicken met its maker before lunch. Cooking up a fresh bird was the on-farm version of fast food long before Colonel Sanders hit the scene with his Kentucky Fried franchise. A hen could contribute to the family’s breakfast and still […] Read more

Getting the mail — and much, much more

Reading Time: 3 minutes Tucked away in various corners of this old house are bundles of letters, held together by elastic bands or stuffed into a big envelope. One of those bundles dates back more than 60 years. It was exchanges between two young people working in different communities the year before they married. That bundle of letters survived […] Read more


Biotechnology — whose voice should be heard?

Biotech pioneers won this year’s World Food Prize, but the ‘Frankenfood’ debate still rages on in North America

Reading Time: 3 minutes It was hard not to smile when one of our African colleagues on a CropLife International tour at the World Food Prize event in Des Moines, Iowa asked a presenter to address rumours that clothes made from genetically modified (GM) crops will make a man bald and impotent. After all, after nearly 20 years of […] Read more

Consumer acceptance remains elusive for biotechnology sector

World Food Prize laureates say better methods are needed for communicating science to the general public

Reading Time: 4 minutes The greatest challenge feeding the world’s growing population is not about the science needed to boost production, it is convincing the public to accept it, scientists receiving the 2013 World Food Prize said here last week. The three scientists honoured as pioneers of genetically modified crops spent much of their time defending the two-decades-old technology […] Read more


Biotechnology — whose voice should be heard?

Biotech pioneers won this year’s World Food Prize, 
but the ‘Frankenfood’ debate still rages on in North America

Reading Time: 3 minutes It was hard not to smile when one of our African colleagues on a CropLife International tour at the World Food Prize event in Des Moines, Iowa asked a presenter to address rumours that clothes made from genetically modified (GM) crops will make a man bald and impotent. After all, after nearly 20 years of […] Read more

Iowa farmers look to cover crops to reduce nutrient losses

Reading Time: 2 minutes Harvest is in full swing on Gordon Wassenaar’s farm — and so is seeding. Directly behind the combine collecting this year’s soybean crop on this farm located about an hour east of Des Moines is a seeder sowing fall rye as a cover crop. The rye won’t be harvested. It will be sprayed out in […] Read more