Supporting modern agriculture while also selling into the market for non-genetically modified food seems like a contradiction.
But an American firm is hoping to pull off that high-wire act with its herbicide-tolerant canola, now for sale in Canada.
“Because it’s a non-GM product, we’re looking at this being aligned with production contracts (for non-GM canola),” said David Sippell, vice-president and general manager of Canadian operations for Cibus, a plant-breeding company based in San Diego, California.
Cibus has branded its canola seed as SU Canola. It’s tolerant of sulfonylurea herbicides and will be grown commercially in Canada for the first time this spring.
SU Canola has been sold in the U.S. since 2016, mostly in North Dakota.
A percentage of farmers abhor the idea of foods with a non-GMO label but it’s difficult for agri-business firms to ignore market signals.
“Cibus is not opposed to genetically modified products,” Sippell said. “But our technology is not a transgenic…. The (result) of that is we can play in the non-GM market because there is a demand at a consumer level…. We just want to fulfill that need in the marketplace.”
SU Canola isn’t transgenic because Cibus developed the herbicide-tolerant trait with a breeding technique it calls the Rapid Trait Development System. Essentially, the method is a more precise form of mutagenesis.
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