Herbicide tolerant flax project progressing

California company working on non-genetically modified variety has had success with canola

Western Canada’s flax breeding program has taken a hit in recent years, but there is encouraging news coming out of the United States.

The flax industry is struggling with the loss of two of its three breeding programs with the closure of Agriculture Canada’s program in Morden, Man., and Crop Production Services’ program in Saskatoon.

There was also a temporary setback with Cibus’s initiative to create a non-genetically modified herbicide tolerant line of flax using its rapid trait development system.

The Flax Council of Canada an-nounced in December 2014 that it had pulled funding after spending $2.86 million on the project because it failed to meet “certain technical thresholds.”

Council president Don Kerr has changed his stance on the project after a November visit to Cibus’s head office in San Diego, California.

“The Cibus situation is looking quite positive.”

Kerr said the herbicide tolerant flax project appears to be following in the footsteps of the company’s sulfonylurea tolerant canola, which it is launching in the U.S. this year and expects to be available in Canada next year.

“It’s certainly back on track,” he said. “We are very optimistic. They have produced some great results. They’re beyond the shoot stage.”

He believes the flax will be sold in a similar closed-loop marketing system as the sulfonylurea tolerant canola, which is being contracted by Cargill in the U.S.

“I don’t expect that they’re going to do anything different with the flax,” said Kerr.

Cibus said its herbicide tolerant flax will be launched in the U.S. in 2019 and in Canada one year later.

The council is still not funding the project, but it has a good relationship with Cibus and will be playing some role in the project.

“We definitely will be involved going forward,” Kerr said. “We just don’t know exactly to what extent, but certainly we want to be as supportive as we can.”

He said Cibus’s RTDS technology opens the door for other breeding developments for the crop.


  • Denise

    Good luck finding consumers for herbicide-tolerant flax. What planet did you guys say you were from?
    Nobody, and I mean nobody, who consumes flax will buy it ,let alone eat it.
    The whole point of eating flax is for its beneficial health properties!
    I guess flax can be used for other things but we are so sick of pesticides, in general.
    You can try to convince people there are no or ‘below harmful levels for human consumption’ herbicide residues left on the seeds but no one will believe it.
    Consumers are very savy and suspicious,nowadays. North American consumers have been burned badly by the grocery and food industry.
    So, if you are making the flax more herbicide- tolerant, then all that means is, you can spray stronger and increased amounts of herbicide on the crop (without killing it) which may make the job of controlling weeds easier for the producer,BUT you have a problem…
    Nobody wants this product.

    • jd7220226

      Nobody except for pet food producers and others who use flaxseed and don’t care if it’s organic or healthy or safe. There wouldn’t be money going into the development of the product if there wasn’t a market for it. I don’t want this product either, but I only speak for myself. I also know that consumers aren’t always well Informed.

  • lazylarry

    what a bunch of bull, just another term for gmo, and this is right from their site:
    “small genetic modifications to important genes in plants and animals”
    so there you have it it is so gmo crap, just a change in wording isn’t going to fool anyone, stop screwing with mother nature you freaking idiots

  • ed

    When it gets to the point that food wise, the safest thing that you can do is drink beer and eat Cheerios all day because they are none GMO and not sprayed with Monsanto’s notorious cancer triggering Roundup, you know things are getting more than a little bit strange.