Japan has found genetically modified flaxseed, which has not been approved by Japan, in imports from Canada, Health Ministry officials said Nov. 16.
In Japan, the bulk of flaxseed is used to produce oil for industrial uses such as the production of paint, with the waste from that process used to produce animal feed and some food for human consumption, a Farm Ministry official said.
“If the GMO material exceeds one per cent, it cannot be used for animal feed,” he said.
Japan imported 11,713 tonnes of flaxseed in 2008, all of which came from Canada, making it Canada’s third-largest flax market.
The Japanese ministry discovered the GMO material FP967 when it made spot checks on shipments of flaxseed for food use exported by Canmar Grain Products Ltd. of Canada, that arrived in Japan in October.
A ministry official said all flaxseed shipments for food use must now be checked to make sure that it has not been contaminated by the GMO material.
The checks will continue until the Canadian government addresses the issue and takes steps to improve the situation, he said. Such inspections usually take about a week to be completed.
Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture said it would also begin checking Canadian flaxseed imported for feed use.
The same GMO material has been found in the European Union from Canadian flax shipments since September, virtually shutting down Canada’s top flax market.
Canada and the EU recently agreed on a system of testing and documentation of GMO materials in Canadian flax shipments but little flax is moving yet to Europe, with time getting short. Canada ships flax to Europe through the Port of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior, which usually freezes by mid-December.
Port of Vancouver, through which Canada ships flax to Japan, has a longer shipping season.
Flax industry officials met last Monday with government officials in Ottawa.