Rebooting Canada’s Flax Industry
Over the past two years, the flax industry has experienced a significant drop in exports and acreage as a result of weather events and the detection in fall 2009 of the presence of CDC Triffid seed, a genetically modified (GM) variety, in shipments to the EU. The EU is a very GM-adverse market and will not allow imports of such products.
The industry, in partnership with AAFC, is working diligently to address these problems and in 2009, initiated a significant testing and monitoring protocol to remove GM Triffid from the seed supply in Canada. These efforts focus on grain and seed and have worked to reduce both the frequency and level of presence of Triffid. However, the level will not move to zero unless a zero source seed is used across the industry.
The Flax Council, along with the University of Saskatchewan and SeCan, is in the process of re-constituting new seed stocks of CDC flax varieties that will be ready for the 2014 planting season. While there are no guarantees, the industry believes this is the best path to remove CDC Triffid from the Canadian system and start to rebuild Canada as the global leader in flax production and export.
At the Flax Day conference on January 7, 2013, the new program was launched at an information session which included presentations from Flax Council of Canada, Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, SeCan and the University of Saskatchewan.
Funding for this program was provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program. In Saskatchewan, this program is delivered by the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan.