GE-Contaminated Flax Seed Raises Concerns For Canadian Organic Sector


    SACKVILLE, Neb., Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Organic Trade
Association (OTA) in Canada has called the recent discovery of contaminated
flax seed in Europe "unacceptable," and said biotechnology companies must take
responsibility for damages caused by their lack of appropriate containment

    The European Commission's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed has
discovered an illegal genetically engineered (GE) trait in German food
products, which originated from Canada. Although no organic products have been
implicated at this time, the discovery of this unauthorized GE trait in food
products is a major concern for the Canadian organic sector, and for consumers
around the world. The GE flax in question, called 'Triffid,' was designed
specifically to withstand applications of synthetic chemical pesticides.

    "It's time for biotech companies to be good parents and take
responsibility for their children. The owners of GE crops need to assume the
liability for loss of market access due to their technologies appearing in
countries or products in which they are not wanted. As GE products are not
permitted under organic standards, the organic sector in Canada is extremely
concerned by the prospect of losing access to its essential markets in Europe,
Asia and around the world," said Matthew Holmes, managing director of OTA in

    The controversial illegal contamination of flax comes on the heals of
recent activity to fast-track new GE crops into North America, including GE
sugar beets, the July approval of Monsanto and Dow's "SmartStax" GE corn, and
current proposals to allow GE alfalfa and GE wheat to be grown in Canada.

    "The introduction of GE alfalfa will seriously compromise Canada's
agricultural sector, and if GE wheat 'goes wild' like this flax seems to, it
could destroy the market for Canada's most important export commodity, wheat,
whether it's organic or not," Holmes said.

    An article in the Summer 2009 edition of The Organic Report indicates
that the proposed introduction of GE alfalfa in Canada will seriously
compromise the marketability of organic and non-organic crops for domestic and
international markets. Alfalfa is a foundation of organic agriculture: used in
crop rotations and as a green nutrient for soil to reduce reliance on
monoculture and chemical fertilizers.

    The Organic Trade Association has repeatedly called for a moratorium on
new GE crops introduced into North American markets until more research is
done on the impact of these technologies on human health, the environment and
the economic impact of their introduction.

    Founded nearly 25 years ago, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the
membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in
North America, with affiliated offices in Canada and the United States. Its
members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers'
associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and
others. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to
benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.


For further information:

For further information: Matthew Holmes, managing director, Organic
Trade Association in Canada, +1-613-482-1717, Web Site:

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