Genetically-Engineered Canola Goes Wild Across North Dakota
Does the statement “Large, persistent populations of genetically engineered canola 1 have been found outside of cultivation in North Dakota” scare you? A new study led by Cynthia Sagers of the University of Arkansas shows that 45% of roadside canola sampled contains genetically modified (GM) or genetically engineered (GE) traits. These plants have established populations that reproduce year after year, sometimes combining multiple man-made genetic traits. The GMO genie is very clearly out of the bottle.
The study should be of particular interest to Percy Schmeiser and other non-GMO canola farmers. Schmeiser engaged in a decade-long legal battle with Monsanto over Roundup Ready Canola found in his fields. A Canadian court even ruled that Schmeiser had violated Monsanto’s patent by allowing GMO canola that had blown into his fields to remain there. One of the factors that was at issue in proceedings was skepticism that the amount of GMO canola found in Schmeiser’s fields could have been unintentional. But Sager’s study now shows it’s just the nature of genetically modified canola; it gets around.
Monsanto v. Schmeiser was finally settled out of court to Schmeiser’s satisfaction, but his optimism that there’s a bright future in non-GMO canola farming in Canada, or the United States where nearly 90% of canola planted is a GMO variety, seems questionable given Sagars’ study.
Anywhere GMO seeds blow across fields and off trucks on their way to processing plants, staying GMO-free is nearly impossible. Back in 2008, Canada’s Organic Agriculture Protection Fund chair Arnold Taylor told Australia’s The Age: “There is no organic canola grown in Canada any more, virtually none, because the seed stock is basically contaminated.” While there may be no turning back for Canada or the United States on canola, there is a movement in Australia and New Zealand, where GMO varieties represent only 8% of the crop, to prevent a similar story.
Take Action: Prevent another genetically modified crop from getting loose in the United States – Say no to GE Alfalfa
Sagars is being quoted widely saying her study “raises questions of whether adequate oversight and monitoring protocols are in place in the U.S. to track the environmental impact of biotech products.” Ya think?