The Classic David vs Goliath Struggle.....
August 1, 2002
Carman - Seed contaminated with herbicide-resistant genes may he a bigger problem than it's being given credit for, according to one University of Manitoba researcher.
being done by Lyle Friesen casts doubts on the entire seed industry.
collected samples from pedigree seed lots that were to be
non-herbicide-resistant canolas. The
resulting plots show some samples had enough escapes to provide a crop of
herbicide-tolerant canola after they'd been sprayed out.
most common escape was to Roundup, but he found examples of all
herbicide-tolerant products and some plants exhibited tolerance to two types
Only one of the lots did not have
of 27 unique CSGA seed lots 14 failed the guidelines of 99.75 purity," said
Friesen. “That means 14 lots had
more then .25 per cent contamination with herbicide-tolerant seeds."
research is not intended to find flaws in the Canadian Seed Growers Association
inspection system, but rather to see how far afield the contamination has gone.
is a problem for direct-seeders or zero-tillers who depend on Roundup to get
broad-spectrum, non-selective weed control in the spring," he said.
“Here we find canola volunteers
that would be popping through that system and causing problems.”
While the amounts sound minuscule as percentages, when multiplied by common seed rates the problem quickly becomes drastic.
means one wrong seed in 400, if a farmer is seeding between
100 and 120 seeds per square yard. That
means you would have a Roundup-resistant plant every couple of square
yards," he said. “In a less
competitive crop where you can mix products like 2,4-D or MCPA, that becomes a real problem and the
volunteers set seed and become a real problem for next year.”
feels the “genie may be out of the bottle” for canola but warns the industry
to be cautious with other herbicide-tolerant plants.
terms of Roundup Ready wheat, this work indicates it is very unlikely that we
would be able to identity preserve either the commercial grain lots or even our
certified seed production system,” he said.
does not outcross as easily as canola but Friesen says pollen is windborne and
can remain viable for as long as an hour. “So
with a 30-mile-an-hour
wind, where is that pollen going?”
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