Europe finds GMO in 11 Canada flax shipments

Mon Oct 5, 2009 1:52pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The European Union has found genetically modified flaxseed in 11 Canadian flax shipments in less than one month, dimming prospects for farmers selling this year's crop.

The EU's rapid-alert database for food and feed added two alerts from France on Friday reporting Canadian flaxseed shipments contaminated with GMO flax, bringing the total to 11.

The shipments are all under quarantine.

European consumers are reluctant to eat genetically modified food for fear of unknown longer-term health effects, although the EU accepts some GMO crops, like canola seed.

The EU does not accept any GMO flax.

Canada is the world's top producer and exporter of flax, a blue-flowering plant also called linseed that produces oil for linoleum flooring and seed for baked goods and animal feed.

Flax is one of Canada's smaller crops, with production forecast at 915,000 tons this year, but three-quarters of the crop typically sells for export.

"I doubt producers will be doing anything with their crop in the short term," said Barry Hall, president of the Flax Council of Canada.   Continued...