Field trials on non-GM, tolerant flax coming soon

Commercial introduction is scheduled for 2020 in Canada

A California company continues to make strides in its quest to develop a non-genetically modified, herbicide tolerant flax crop.

Cibus has created glyphosate resistant flax that is doing what it is supposed to do in a laboratory setting, said Greg Gocal, chief scientific officer for Cibus.

“We’re really encouraged by how the crop performs in the greenhouse, but the greenhouse is not completely predictive of how the material will perform in the field,” he said.

Gocal doesn’t believe enough seed is available to proceed with field trials this year, but the company hopes to obtain regulatory approval to conduct field trials starting next year.

“We’re in the process of expanding that population of plants so that we have enough seed that we could do field trials,” he said.

The project has received funding from the Canadian government and the Flax Council of Canada.

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The council dropped its funding for the project a couple of years ago, but Gocal said Cibus has been in discussions with the council about helping fund the upcoming field trials.

He believes herbicide tolerant flax would win back acres from competing crops such as canola.

“It really will make a huge difference in how competitive the flax crop is,” said Gocal.

The project is on schedule for commercial introduction in the United States in 2019 and one year later in Canada pending regulatory approval.

Cibus’s herbicide tolerant flax would have to receive regulatory approval through Canada’s plants with novel traits system before it could be marketed to Canadian farmers.

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The crop will likely avoid the regulatory approval process in the U.S. because it was created using a process that regulators have deemed to be non-transgenic.

Cibus used a combination of its patented Rapid Trait Development System (RTDS) technology with directed nucleases such as CRISPRs and TALENs to develop the trait

Gocal described CRISPRs and TALENs as molecular scissors that allow scientists to cut the genome in a specific spot and then use the RTDS technology to install a snippet of DNA that acts as a template that changes the letters of the DNA code to create the desired trait.

Cibus intends to use the technology to create other desirable traits such as disease resistance and beneficial changes to the oil and starch profile of crops.

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  • Harold

    The difference is that one trait uses genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, humans, and animals (GMO)- the other manipulates in a different way. Personally I choose neither. What’s your point? If this technology works, would you have a problem selling it? What’s “too bad” exactly? …

  • lazylarry

    it is still gmo no matter how they try to sell it, there is no such thing as a natural herbicide tolerant gene!!

    • Clark Brenzil, PAg.

      Tell that to all of the herbicide resistant weeds out there.

      • richard

        Yeah, except the flax is the result of the same reductionist nonsense that created the weed resistance in the first place….. How about breeding seeds for nutritional functionality instead of a lame obsession with control….. Healthy food instead of dead weeds…..what a concept? Have we turned into gerbils?

  • lazylarry

    yes and good thing too, nobody wants garbage gmo crap

  • lazylarry

    leave our food alone, we don’t want your gmo and shouldn’t all you farmers be worried, when big chemical companies own the patent to seeds…you can’t save your own seed why would you want this…it will cost you way more and you will lose control of farming and it will be the chemical companies that will eventually own you….is that what you all want???

  • lazylarry

    no farmer should grow gmo, their life will eventually depend on it!