GFM Network News


The rules are still being written for genome editing

Researchers are excited about genomic editing’s potential to develop new crop varieties without the controversial genetically modified label. However, the regulation of genome edited crop varieties is still up for debate. In March, the U.S. agriculture secretary said his officials won’t regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques. “With this […] Read more

In this video from the Canola Council of Canada, Angela Barnes, the council’s agronomist for southern Alberta, 
holds what appears — from the ground up — to be a fairly healthy canola plant. But the roots of the same plant 
(inset photo) show it is heavily infected with clubroot galls. This hidden spread of clubroot illustrates why a breakdown in resistance may not be immediately obvious in a canola field.

Key source of clubroot resistance goes AWOL

‘Grandparent’ can defeat new mutated clubroot strains but somehow it doesn’t get passed down

The ‘grandparent’ of clubroot resistance in most Canadian canola varieties is resistant to new virulent strains of clubroot — but its offspring aren’t. “It’s possible that, in the course of breeding, some of the resistant genes were lost,” said provincial research scientist Rudolph Fredua-Agyeman. European clubroot differential (ECD) 04 is a key source of clubroot […] Read more


It is estimated that 96 per cent of corn varieties have already been lost.

Encouraging seed diversity is essential for the future

We should mourn the loss of diversity in older crop varieties 
and the concentration of seed ownership

One of the wonders of travel and of food is the vast varieties of plants that beautify our world. Many have medicinal and nutritional qualities and have been used for food or healing for thousands of years. Others are new hybrids that beautify the plate and add colour to our meal. They all have ancient […] Read more

New tool could speed up crop breeding

Alberta’s barley breeders now have access to both phenomic (field trial) and genomic data in one place. “The phenomic data is in the hands of the breeder, but the genomic data is generated through lab work,” said provincial researcher and biostatistician Rong-Cai Yang, who developed a new software program called the Barley Breeding Platform (BBP). “Usually […] Read more


University of Alberta canola breeder Habibur Rahman has been working on double resistance 
for more than a decade.

Double-resistant canola variety now available

But the first variety with ‘multigenic’ resistance is not a silver bullet, experts warn

A new hybrid canola cultivar that offers double resistance to clubroot has been registered and is now available to farmers. Proven Seed PV 580 GC was developed by University of Alberta canola breeder Habibur Rahman and Crop Production Services (CPS). It carries a resistance gene from Mendel, a European winter canola cultivar, and a second […] Read more

New Plant Breeders’ Rights database launched

A new database to assist seed sector stakeholders to easily identify Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) protection on crop varieties registered for sale in Canada has been launched. The Crop Varieties Registered in Canada and Plant Breeders’ Rights Status database was created by the Canadian Seed Trade Association with the assistance of the Canadian Food Inspection […] Read more


Federal official says UPOV ’91 will benefit farmers

Commissioner of plant breeders’ rights says enhanced intellectual property 
protection will bring more investment, better varieties, and greater choice

It’s a mistake to think that enhanced plant breeders’ rights only benefit seed companies, says the commissioner of plant breeders’ rights with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “The net benefit, at the end of the day, is really going to be for farmers,” said Anthony Parker at FarmTech in January. The federal government is poised […] Read more

Benoit Bizimungu is a scientist working on improved potato varieties for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

This spud’s for you — breeders develop new low-glycemic potato

Low-glycemic potatoes don’t cause a big spike in insulin, which makes it suitable for diabetics

There’s a new spud in town, and it’s made to suit Canada’s growing number of diabetics. The new and as yet unnamed potato has a lower-glycemic-index potential, improved digestibility, and can be enjoyed without creating a big spike of sugar and insulin in the body. “As part of improving the food attributes, we’ve been more […] Read more


Germplasm technician Laura Hoge shows how it’s done during a hands-on plant-breeding demonstration at the recent Lacombe Field Day.

A lesson in (barley) emasculation

Reporter's notebook: Pollination and plant breeding at Lacombe Field Day

The more I learn about plant breeding, the more I feel I missed my true calling in life. And a recent attempt at crossing two barley plants at the Lacombe Field Day only fuelled my secret ambition. I worked with Laura Hoge, a germplasm technician at Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, in a machine shed […] Read more