Sask. grower fined for seed sales

A pedigreed seed grower from Moose Jaw, Sask., has agreed to pay a penalty of $150,000 stemming from unauthorized sales of two seed varieties.

Harvey Marcil of Pasqua Farms will pay a $150,000 settlement related to the unauthorized sale of CDC Bethune flax and AC Strongfield durum.

Both seed varieties are protected under plant breeders rights. Distribution rights are held by SeCan.

Todd Hyra, SeCan’s business manager for Western Canada, said SeCan became aware of the infringements in early 2014.

He said an investigation examined sales of common seed that took place over a period of several years.

Marcil, a long-standing SeCan member, must also refrain in the future from selling the two varieties without proper authorization.

The settlement involving Marcil and SeCan is the largest of its kind involving illegal sales of SeCan genetics.

SeCan’s largest settlement previously was a $130,000 agreement reached in 2013.

The most recent case was particularly concerning to SeCan and the western Canadian flax industry because CDC Bethune is one of a handful of flax varieties that were remultiplied from pure breeder seed stocks to ensure it did not contain traces of the unapproved genetically modified variety, CDC Triffid.

The presence of Triffid in commercial shipments of Canadian flax several years ago cost the Canadian flax industry tens of millions of dollars in lost sales and costly remediation efforts.

Hyra said the industry has invested considerable resources in reconstituting and relaunching CDC Bethune and in ensuring the traces of Triffid have been removed from pedigreed and commercial flax inventories.

“It (the Bethune seed that was sold illegally) wouldn’t have been reconstituted,” Hyra said.

“It was common seed so in that particular case, it was very important to get that one stopped … because it was the year that we were launching reconstituted (Bethune) seed with new supplies and starting fresh,” he added.

Hyra acknowledged that additional follow-up work will be required with farmers who ac-quired and planted common Bethune seed.

Those growers will be encouraged to change their seed inventories to reconstituted supplies.

Don Kerr, president with the Flax Council of Canada, said there are no signs to indicate that industry efforts to rid flax supplies of Triffid genetics have been jeopardized.

“As an industry (we) have made significant progress toward eliminating Triffid from our supply chain and in doing so (we) actively encourage growers to use reconstituted seed,” Kerr wrote in a Feb. 20 email.

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