Canada Flax Not Shipping to EU, Key Port to Close
Reuters, UK, Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Canada has not shipped any of its new
flax crop to its top market, the European Union, because of concerns
about genetically modified (GMO) material, the Flax Council of Canada
said on Wednesday.
And the window of opportunity is closing as the crops most important
port nears closure for the winter.
The European Union, which traditionally buys 70 percent of Canadas
flax, first detected GMO material in a Canadian flax shipment in July.
There is no GMO flax approved in the EU, where consumers are wary of
long-term GMO effects (smart people I say – April).
Although the EU has not banned all flax imports from Canada, exporters
deem shipments to the EU risky even with Canada and the EU agreeing on
Flax shipments travel from Western Canada to the Port of Thunder Bay,
through which they reach the Atlantic Ocean. The ports shipping
season typically ends in late December when its harbor on Lake
Superior and the Welland Canal joining Lake Ontario and Lake Erie
There has been talk in the industry about exporters making test
shipments to Europe, but Flax Council president Barry Hall said he’s
not aware of it.
“I don?t think anything has shipped at all.”
Shippers could move flax by rail to the St. Lawrence Seaway or through
Port Metro Vancouver on the Pacific Coast, Hall said, but added those
options may raise concerns about logistics and distance.
Canada is the worlds largest producer and exporter of flax — also
called linseed — that produces oil for industrial use like linoleum
flooring and seed for baked goods.
Canadian farmers grew an estimated 930,000 tons of flax this year,
according to Statistics Canada.
GMO flax has also turned up in Japan, Canadas No. 3 market, leading
to checks of all flax for food use.
With the key port to Europe about to close, farmers will store more
flax than usual over the winter, said Allen Kuhlmann, chair of the
Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission.
Longer storage times, plus cash prices that are C$3 per bushel lower
than usual at C$8-C$9, means many farmers face hard times, he said.
“People rely on flax as a cash crop in fall to pay their inputs. If
they haven?t been able to move the product, then they’re sitting with
their bills unpaid.”
Farmers may also sour on flax enough that planted acreage could shrink
next year, he said.
FP967 is the only GMO flax variety ever produced. A Canadian
university researcher developed it in the 1990s and officials in
Canada and the U.S. authorized it for use in feed and food. The flax
industry successfully lobbied the Canadian government to deregister it
in 2001 and acquired most of the seed to be destroyed or crushed
($1=$1.06 Canadian) (Editing by Jim Marshall)
Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
431 Gilmour Street, Second Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0R5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext.6
Fax: 613 241 2506
Join the Global Rejection of GE Wheat! www.cban.ca/GEwheat
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