Genetically Modified Canola Plantings Reach 90 Percent in Canada

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Farmer Fred Meister Sees Significant Environmental Benefits on His Farm

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So, environmentally, we feel that it is a big help.

Canadian farmers first planted genetically modified (GM) herbicide-tolerant canola crops in the mid-1990s. Today, nearly 90 percent of Canadian canola farmers are planting 90 percent of the canola hectares nationwide to GM canola.

In a new online video released today, Canadian farmer Fred Meister discusses his experience growing genetically modified canola crops, which he personally has adopted on 100 percent of his canola hectares. "We took some of the first contracts that were out there," says Meister, a second-generation family farmer who also grows field peas, wheat and barley. "We now grow 100 percent herbicide-tolerant crops that are GM crops."

In canola, as in most crops, there are some weeds that are difficult for farmers to control once the crop starts growing because herbicides can injure the crop as well as the weeds. Genetically modified herbicide-tolerant canola plants have been modified to tolerate specific herbicides, making weed control easier and better.

"The benefits of using GM crops, for me, is the herbicide tolerance," continues Meister. "You use less herbicide, as far as that goes. Also, the tillage of the ground."

Growers use tillage to control weeds and prepare the soil for planting. Excessive tillage can negatively impact the soil and increase soil erosion. "Without them, you have to disturb the soil and that can lead to erosion and wind and water erosion," says Meister about herbicide-tolerant canola. "So, environmentally, we feel that it is a big help."

Canola is an oil-seed crop that has been grown in North America for more than 30 years, primarily for food use. The pods on canola plants contain seeds that are pressed to extract oil, which is lower in saturated fat than other vegetable oils and is a better source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.

"We grow it mainly for food use oil. The meal that's left over after the oil's extracted is used for a number of uses - but mostly for animal feeds," explains Meister. While the plants are modified to tolerate herbicide applications, the oil is not changed. It is identical to canola oil from non-modified or conventional canola crops.

This new video about genetically modified herbicide-tolerant canola crops can be viewed, downloaded or embedded into another Web site from the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site. In addition, visitors to the Web site can video videos with other Canadian farmers about agriculture biotechnology in Canada and with experts about the safety of genetically modified foods.

The Conversations about Plant Biotechnology is designed to give a voice and a face to the farmers and families who grow GM crops and the experts who research and study the benefits of biotechnology in agriculture. The Web site contains more than 70 two- to three-minute, candid, straightforward and compelling video segments with the people who know the technology best. The Web site is hosted by Monsanto Company -- a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

Contact:
Ranjana Smetacek
314-694-2642
ranjana.smetacek @ monsanto.com

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