the Flax Council of Canada (FCC) first announced that genetically modified
(GM) flaxseed not approved for human consumption had been detected in Europe,
reports of such contamination have surfaced in a total of 35 countries.
of flax detected is known as FP967 or Triffid, and was never approved for
commercial use. In 2001, the Canadian government banned its use. Researchers
are still unsure how commercial flax stocks around the world have become
so widely contaminated by Triffid's genetic material.
is known is that by 2001, 40 different seed producers were growing 20,000
bushels of Triffid seed, anticipating future demand. When the GM crop was
banned, the stocks were supposed to be destroyed. Some investigators suspect
that instead, much of it was put into production anyway. Others have pointed
the finger at the sample seed packets distributed to farmers in 2000. Although
such packets were not intended for commercial use, some farmers may nevertheless
have planted and eventually commercialized them. Alternatively, genetic
contamination of non-GM flax could have taken place during Triffid's testing
phases, before it was banned and without widescale commercial planting.
has been criticized for covering up its knowledge of the genetic contamination
for months until its announcement in September 2009 that Triffid genetic
material had been detected in Canadian flax being imported into the European
Union. The FCC admits that it first learned of the contamination in July,
but an anonymous industry source informed "The Organic & Non-GMO
Report" that the FCC actually learned of the contamination in March.
2010, the FCC produced more controversy by failing to list Genetic ID, the
laboratory that had detected the contamination, on its list of labs approved
to test flax for Triffid genetic material. One industry source called this
exclusion "an obvious attempt to shoot the messenger."
ID is endorsed by the Canadian Grain Commission as equipped to test flaxseed
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