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New Plan Allows Farm-Saved Flax

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While it will mean rigorous testing for much of the 2010 flax crop, the Flax Council of Canada’s plans to get CDC Triffid genetics out of the seed supply now have a place for farmers’ saved seed.

Recent testing by the Crop Development Centre (CDC) at the University of Saskatchewan has found “extremely low” indicators of the genetically modified (GM) flax variety on a limited number of breeder seed samples, the council said in a release.

And extensive testing of three registered varieties – CDC Bethune, CDC Sorrel and CDC Sanctuary – has shown indicators of trace levels of GM material below 0.01 per cent, the council said.

The tests in question were undertaken to provide information to seed growers and flax producers, the council said, noting it recommended the testing procedures used.

The council said it’s leading an initiative to develop a revised domestic stewardship program which would include an option for producers to use farm-saved seed under rigorous sampling and testing procedures.

Flax growers and “other stakeholders” will be contacted in the coming days with further information about sampling and testing procedures, the council said.


“This information has very recently become available to us and Canada’s flax industry is responding quickly to make the right decisions,” council president Barry Hall said in a release.

“This includes direct communications with our flax growers, destination customers and other stakeholders, informing them of our revised approach as we continue working towards a long-term solution.”

The revised approach is a departure from the council’s previous position dating back to January.

The council at the time said putting a certified-seed protocol in place for all Canadian flax bound for Europe, the top export destination for the crop, would be “the only feasible option for testing and ensuring the seed supply is Triffid-free.”

Several GM-shy countries closed their ports to Canadian flax last fall after a number of samples tested positive for markers of Triffid.

After last fall’s discovery, however, Triffid genetic material was found to have contaminated breeder seed of two conventional flax varieties, CDC Normandy and CDC Mons.

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