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CFIA alerted about GM wheat in Alberta

CFIA alerted about GM wheat in Alberta

The wheat contained Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) revealed that it encountered a variety of GM wheat in southern Alberta last summer.

A producer found the wheat on the side of an access road leading to an oil platform. The farmer contacted Alberta Agriculture after the wheat survived a herbicide application. Alberta Agriculture then forwarded its results to the CFIA for further examination.

The CFIA tested seven plants and found the wheat matched Monsanto’s MON71200 wheat line, an incident report says. Wheat from the same line was used in field trials in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but those trials were conducted about 300 kilometres way from the discovery site.

The wheat also contained Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait, David Bailey, director of the CFIA’s plant production division, told reporters on a conference call yesterday.

Government officials destroyed the remainder of the plants, giving scientists reason to believe the wheat has not spread to other fields.

“We can say with confidence that is it not in the grain system and not in the seed system because we were able to isolate it and control it and destroy it,” Bailey said.

The CFIA believes the discovery of GM wheat is isolated and should not have any impact on wheat exports.

But the federal government is providing grain buyers with tools and resources to ensure their shipments of Canadian wheat are free of the genetically modified wheat.

“We have developed a test kit that we can share with trading partners who wish to test their own grain that’s imported from Canada,” Bailey said. “We are prepared for any questions that come from trading partners.”

“The government is going to provide information to allow our trading partners to make informed, science-based decisions to continue trading in Canadian wheat,” Kathleen Donohue, executive director of market access coordination for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, said during the conference call.

Canadian trading partners, however, don’t feel the same way.

Japan, who imported more than 1.6 million tons of Canadian wheat in 2015, is suspending further purchases in light of the GM discovery.

“We are suspending the tender and sale of Canadian wheat until we confirm that the Canadian wheat that Japan buys contains no GMO,” an official at the Japanese agriculture ministry said, Reuters reports.

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