- Scientists have long said the use of herbicide-tolerant
canola would eventually, according to this story, result in super-resistant
plants. Now they've been proven right.
- The story says that volunteer canola resistant to three
herbicide-tolerant canola systems has been found in a field in northern
Alberta. Alberta Agriculture canola specialist Phil Thomas was quoted as
saying, "We knew it was going to happen. It was only a matter of when."
A series of chemical and DNA tests confirm the weeds in Tony Huether's
field near Sexsmith are resistant to Roundup, Liberty and Pursuit chemicals.
Denise Maurice, agronomy manager with Westco Fertilizers, a fertilizer
sales company, was cited as saying it's the first official case of natural
gene stacking in canola since genetically modified canola was adopted by
farmers five years ago.
- Canola scientist Keith Downey, who created modern canola,
wangs cited as says the triple-resistant canola isn't a great problem,
adding, "We haven't created a superweed or anything like that."
He said that adding 2,4-D or a similar herbicide to a chemical mix will
kill any wayward weeds, noting, "I don't think it means anything to
consumers." [Web note: 2,4-D is a toxic herbicide]
- Jenny Hillard, vice-president of the Consumer Association
of Canada [Web note Canada's so-called "Consumer Association"
is pro-biotech], was cited as saying this will just be another "horror
story" tossed about to frighten consumers, adding, "The backlash
now is so little based on fact, I know it won't make it any worse. The
general public hasn't a clue of what's going on. They're frightened with
so little science behind their fears. They need to get a handle on this
or we'll lose the whole damn technology."
- Still, the story says, farmers like Huether have begun
to question the technology that led to the canola stew in his field. The
gene crossings have prompted him to stop growing genetically modified canola,
adding, "I wouldn't say I'd never do it again, but the way I feel,
it's for the best interest of the consumer that I don't."
- The story says that Huether seeded two fields of canola
in 1997. On the west side of a county road he planted Quest, a canola tolerant
of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. On the east side of the road he planted
20 acres of Innovator, a canola tolerant of Aventis's Liberty herbicide.
The rest of the 140-acre field was planted to 45A71, a Smart canola tolerant
to Cyanamid's Pursuit and Odyssey herbicides. All are Argentine types.
The two fields are about 30 metres apart. The year after he planted the
field, he discovered volunteer weeds resistant to Roundup where none had
been planted. Double resistance was confirmed the first year. The next
year, triple resistance was confirmed. Triple resistance can't happen in
one year, said Downey. The mixing of all three herbicide-tolerant types
has been blamed on a combination of bees and wind that carry pollen between
plants in fields too close together. Researchers now recommend at least
200 metres between genetically modified canola varieties and any other
canola field to prevent gene crossing.
- Huether was further cited as saying he is bothered by
the secrecy surrounding the field tests adding, "Many plants were
taken and a lot of seeds taken and grown out in the lab and sprayed with
herbicide, and DNA tests done on it, and the results are not being made
public. I feel that should be made public." Huether points his finger
at the close relationship between chemical companies and government scientists,
stating, "It's hush hush because research is funded to a large extent
by big business. I'm losing more and more confidence in the whole system
of research and how things are approved." Carman Read, with Monsanto,
was cited as saying the company had nothing to do with the Alberta Agriculture
study and hasn't influenced Alberta Agriculture to withhold the results.
John Huffman, an Alberta Agriculture crop specialist who worked with Huether
to identify the problems, was cited as saying the report will likely be
released in two weeks.
- BioDemocracy and Organic Consumers Association 6114 Hwy
61, Little Marais, MN 55614, E-mail:<../staff.cfmStaff Activist or
Media Inquiries: (218) 226-4164, Fax: (218) 226-4157
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