Seed World

Controversy Rages on Over GM Alfalfa Seed Sales in Canada

Canada’s National Farmers Union (NFU) has written to Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay asking him to take immediate action to stop Forage Genetics International from selling genetically modified alfalfa seed in Canada this spring. The NFU also asked the minister to put border controls in place to prevent importation of “contaminated” conventional alfalfa seed from the United States.
Last week, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties passed a resolution to prevent the introduction of GM alfalfa into Alberta until there is market and consumer acceptance, noted Peter Eggers, NFU Region 8 Coordinator.
Roundup Ready alfalfa seed — created and marketed by Forage Genetics International — is now available commercially in the United States. It’s also approved for sale in Canada as well, but FGI has made the decision to hold off on commercial sales of the herbicide-tolerant genetically modified alfalfa, despite the fact that it was granted full food, feed and environmental approval by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2005.
Heather Kerschbaumer, president of Forage Seed Canada, has applauded the AAMDC’s resolution. She fears that those export markets will be lost if GM alfalfa is grown in Western Canada. In 2015, she lost a sale of clover seed to Europe due to the presence of some GM canola seeds in the shipment, despite the fact it was certified organic.
“Until the rest of the world accepts GMO crops, why would we want to totally abandon our export markets?” she says. “We’re not opposed to the technology, we just don’t want to be contaminated. But how do you build a wall to ensure contamination doesn’t happen?”