E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


Organic grower will keep certification

(Monday, Sept. 8, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Karen Briere, Western Producer, 09/04/03: A Saskatchewan organic farmer who found volunteer genetically modified canola in his field likely won't lose his certification if he can prove the offending plants have been removed.

France Gravel, director of Garantie Bio-Ecocert at Levis, Que., said the organic certifier had sent inspectors to examine Pat Neville's crop.

A crew hired by Monsanto went through the field near Govan, Sask., to pull the canola, identified as a Roundup Ready variety. A neighbour had grown that crop last year.

"We do not allow people to use GMO, but if there is a drift and if it can be solved, then it's OK," Gravel said.

Garantie Bio-Ecocert certifies for export to the European Union and producers must meet EU specifications for organic production.

She said sometimes fields may be pulled from production for one year to help clean up a problem. Others go back into transition for three years, or longer if they have been intentionally contaminated.

"It's a lot of stress for the producer," she said.

Ken Hymers of the Canadian Organic Certification Co-op said this case is a bit more complicated because the farmer produces organic registered seed.

Inspectors from the co-op, which exports to United States standards, are also examining the field to verify what steps have been taken to fix the problem. Hymers said independent reviewers determine whether certification can be granted.

He said a major concern in a situation like this is the producer's ability to clean out the volunteer crop. For example, it is difficult to clean canola out of a small-seeded crop like flax.

Meanwhile, Monsanto spokesperson Trish Jordan said the company has had a program in place since 1996 to deal with volunteer plants.

"We go out. We talk to the farmer. We make sure that it is Roundup Ready canola, make sure that it is pollen flow as opposed to a seed purity issue," she said.

Monsanto pays the costs of removing the plants.

Jordan said this situation is not that common, but happens more frequently in chemically fallowed fields.

Neville could not be reached for comment.