15 August 1997

Canada seed recall

MORE than 60,000 bags of genetically modified rape seed were recalled from the Canadian market earlier this year after the seed was found to contain the wrong gene.

Two varieties of GM Roundup tolerant rape seed, enough to plant 242,915ha (600,000 acres), were withdrawn from the market after an unapproved gene was found in the seed, according to a report in the Canadian newspaper, The Western Producer.

It said a handful of producers, including Gerard Oosterhuis, were forced to destroy GM crops which had already been planted. Mr Oosterhuis is reported to have sprayed his entire 38ha (93-acre) GM rape crop in April with a total herbicide and reseeded with spring wheat.

He said he received fair compensation from Monsanto, who owned the gene.

But a non-disclosure contract prevented him from saying how much he received from the company.

A Monsanto spokesman told the paper that the gene was "correctly in those varieties. But what happened is that one variety, or the gene construct that we decided to work on and got approval on was not the one that was put into production."

The Canadian government now wants to ensure similar mistakes do not happen again. Margaret Kenny of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said: "As with any regulatory system youve got to make sure the company has a plan, so weve got to look into that with this company."

The Monsanto spokesman is reported to have said it was too early to say whether the varieties would be available next year.