Friday, October 30, 2009

Invasive Sci-Fi Flaxseed

Genetically modified Triffid seeds that were reportedly given out by developer Alan McHughen, now a biotechnologist at the University of California, Riverside "for educational purposes only" and thought to have been destroyed in 2001, are popping up and contaminating Canada's organic crops causing their value to plummet. There are no health concerns but that hasn't stopped European importers from shutting their doors, 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.

...Terry Boehm, a flax grower near Saskatoon and one of the approximately 15,000 prairie farmers who produce the crop, is worried about the fallout from the food scare. The cause of the contamination is “the $300-million question,” he said, adding: “I really can't hazard to say how it's there, but there's a huge amount of questions that need to be answered in regard to that.” 
The genetic contamination also undermines the image of a product widely extolled for its health benefits as a rich source of artery-friendly omega-3 fatty acids and often grown organically to further its cachet. In organic farming, using genetically modified organisms is a big no-no..."

I suppose it's possible that a few farmers planted the seeds despite McHugen's instruction but come on, folks. Are we going to believe that only organic flax growers need be concerned? Nice try, authorities. Clearly a genetically modified plant has escaped and may soon take over the world.

I kid, I kid. And I shouldn't because this "contamination" is truly threatening the livelihood of quite a few Canadian prairie farmers. What a mess. Perhaps the lesson here is that not all organic growers are created equally trustworthy and therefore releasing the GM seed for any purposes is the big no-no. And that European pastry chefs might be a acting a tad too doomsday. Read more here and here.

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