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Prairie producers concerned...
Herbicide Resistance is Out of Control say Canola Farmers

(15 August - Cropchoice News) -- It's not a philosophical beef with biotech that is driving prairie producer unrest about GMO canola, it's a bottom line problem: herbicide resistant plants are spreading like wildfire, causing management problems and new expenses. The spread of resistance means more trips across the field and more inputs to buy. Lavern Affleck, a canola producer in Moosomin, Saskatchewan says "I'm not anti-technology. But I'm having trouble with this one... science is working against us."

Attention was focused on the issue earlier this summer with the trial in Monsanto's infamous lawsuit against Saskatchewan canola producer Percy Schmeiser, who is accused of violating Monsanto's patent rights. Schmeiser says he was a victim of cross pollination and has filed a countersuit. Canada's major national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, ran a feature piece on Monday on the unchecked spread of herbicide resistance, calling GMO canola's movements a "seed invasion".

Canola varieties resistant to Roundup, Liberty, Pursuit and Odyessy have been sold in Canada, with reports of cross-pollination and resistant volunteers increasing dramatically in the last 2 years. Affleck is especially angry with Monsanto because he has never planted RR crops. He does use Roundup for weed control; but this year its less useful because of the large number of Roundup resistant canola plants that were blown into and are germinating in his wheat.

Now, Affleck has to look to other sprays to control the problem. He told the Globe and Mail "It may be necessary to use a lot more potentially more harmful chemicals to kill this monster... I will never get rid of that crop. And I will never be able to grow an organic crop... for the future, I will never be able to effectively use Roundup for my weed control."

According to the Globe and Mail, the Canadian Government does not deny that there is an emerging problem with the spread of herbicide resistance. The paper quotes the spokesman of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as having an ambiguous position, saying "Certainly it's been a question that's been raised, that's my answer."

Monsanto will reportedly pay for Affleck's problem and is not too concerned, saying "Can canola outcrop? Yes, it can, but no more so than any other crop." But Monsanto's position might not be the most reassuring for farmers who have planted, or who are near, RR corn and soybeans.

Percy Schmeiser says there are many more farmers like Affleck who have contacted him in the wake of his trial (a decision comes this fall). "I've had at least 100 farmers across the West telling me about problems they're having with volunteer canola," says the feisty Schmeiser, "It's just unreal the number of people who have canola in their fields after they have sprayed."

See the full Globe and Mail story here

SOURCE: Globe and Mail