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Cross Pollination

Biodiesel Now a Reality in Canada

“This is a milestone for home-grown renewable biodiesel in Canada. Biodiesel is a better way to drive and an innovative way to fuel our economy,” said Gordon Quaiattini, president of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, after the Canadian government said it was implementing a two per cent biodiesel mandate in the nation as of July 1 this year. “Biodiesel is a cleaner alternative to conventional diesel. It will help moderate price by adding to all our fuel supply, create new jobs and benefit farmers and drivers alike.” To date Canadian biofuels production plants have generated around $3 billion in economic activity. “The announcement sets the stage for Canada to become a world leader in advanced biofuels,” Quaiattini added. “The production and the commercialisation of next generation advanced biofuels using state-of-the-art technology and a wide variety of feedstocks is underway. Thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of our biofuel pioneers and a stable policy environment the future is now for advanced biofuels in Canada.”


RR ALFALFA COUNTDOWN

Roundup Ready alfalfa has received a green light from U.S. officials, but there are no immediate plans for its commercialization in Canada. “First off, they’re going to be pretty focussed on getting things up and running in the United States,” said Mike McGuire, a director with Monsanto Canada, of Forage Genetics International, the company that’s commercializing the technology and the one that would decide on whether to market it to Canadian producers. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s plant biosafety office approved the technology as safe for food, feed and environment in 2005. However, McGuire said performance testing would have to take place and without a plan for commercialization here, the earliest that testing could begin would be 2012. “There’s no magic moment,” he said.


CANADIAN GOVERNMENT WORKS ON LLP

The Canadian Seed Trade Association is pleased that the Government of Canada is tackling non-tariff trade barriers, such as zero tolerance for products of biotechnology, to facilitate the trade of Canadian agricultural products between Canada and the European Union. “With his just concluded mission to the EU, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz has taken a direct approach to resolving a very serious problem that is negatively impacting our industry,” says CSTA president Wayne Unger. “We appreciate that the minister and his government have placed a high priority on resolving this trade issue.”


A “CHILE” HARVEST

“We are working in Chile for the harvest, providing seed analysis services to various companies who produce and export seed to Canada. Harvest is underway and will continue into March. They have had a very good growing season in Chile and it shows in the quality of seed that we have seen in our initial samples. We are working mainly with hybrid canola, in addition to soybeans and forage crops.” —Kevin Zaychuk of 20/20 Seed Labs


SCIENCE PREVAILS OVER PRECAUTION?

“The defeat of this bill is good news for farmers,” said Canada’s agriculture minister Gerry Ritz in a statement, after controversial bill C-474, which would have required an economic analysis of potential market impacts before a new GM variety could be approved, was defeated in the House of Commons by a vote of 176 to 97. “It is critical that our system remain based firmly in science, not in politics.”


FLOWERING PLANTS PREVENT INBREEDING

“Humans have mechanisms to prevent inbreeding that are, in part, cultural. But a plant can’t just get up and move to the next town to find a suitable, unrelated mate. Some other system must be at work,” says Teh-hui Kao, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State and lead researcher of a team that has discovered a large suite of genes in the petunia plant that acts to prevent it from breeding with itself or its close relatives and promotes breeding with unrelated individuals.


TACKLING LIABILITY AND REDRESS

“The agreement to adopt the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress is a major milestone in the global effort to protect life on earth. The unprecedented naming of the new treaty after two cities located in the North and the South sends a clear and strong political message that addressing the challenges facing us today requires a new North–South partnership and cooperation, and calls for a new way of doing business,” says Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, referring to the new treaty reached by the Parties to the Biosafety Protocol at a recent summit in Japan. Named after two cities where the final rounds of negotiations were held, and after more than six years of intense negotiations, the new treaty will establish international rules and procedures for liability and redress in case of damage to biological diversity resulting from living modified organisms.


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