It’s not genetically modified, but it’s a coming variety of flax that is resistant to glyphosate.
And because glyphosate-resistant corn was the first GMO variety in the world, the link may be made by GMO critics and the public.
Eric Fridfinnson of the Manitoba Flax Growers Association says in an article in the Manitoba Cooperator that the move towards herbicide-tolerant flax began several years ago and stemmed from a desire to increase yields, which hover around 22 bushels per acre in Manitoba.
“We really feel that it would be a great benefit to flax to be able to use this technology,” said Fridfinnson. “We see a number of areas where it would be useful for breeders to be able to move their program more quickly and raise the genetic potential of flax.”
In the spring of 2010, the Flax Council of Canada signed on with U.S. crop trait development firm Cibus to work on non-transgenic flax traits, providing significant funding for the company’s work. The Manitoba Flax Growers Association also contributed to the project, providing approximately $200,000 to the San Diego-based company over about four years.
But after Cibus failed to meet various milestones, the council ended its arrangement with the company. Now Cibus says it’s ready to launch the new variety in 1919 in the United States and in 2020 in Canada.