Attack of the Genetically Modified Flax Seed

[social_buttons]Nope, it’s not a spooky tale left over from Halloween. After word got out that Canada’s flax seed crops had been cross-contaminated with a genetically modified variety, the country’s entire flax industry is in peril.


When the European market got wind of the contamination, they blocked all Canadian flax imports. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, flax prices have fallen from around $11 per bushel to $2 or $3. Flax farming is $320-million industry in Canada…that is a lot of folks’ livelihoods at stake!

The strain of GM flax, called Triffid, was developed at the University of Saskatchewan in the 1990s and was supposedly taken off the market back in 2001. The contamination shows just how hard it is to keep GM crops under control.

Triffid was deemed safe for human consumption, but we really lucked out in this respect. Remember the Starlink corn fiasco? Triffid-contaminated seeds have been popping up all over Europe. The Globe and Mail reports:

Since early September, confectionery companies there have been yanking pastries and other baked goods containing flax from their shelves, blaming imports from Canada for the contamination. The genetically modified seeds have been found in 34 countries, according to the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

Canadian authorities are still trying to track down the farmers who planted the Triffids. While it’s illegal to sell the GM flax, it is legal for farmers to grow it as long as they disclose that fact.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by digiyesica

Written by Becky Striepe

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