Consumer Issues
The Prairie Pest Monitoring Network (PPMN), now in its 20th year, continues to provide timely crop insect pest risk and forecasting tools for growers and the industry across Western Canada. As technology and forecasting tools advance, so does the ability of the network to provide relevant insect pest information related to scouting, identification and monitoring tools and information, plus links to provincial monitoring and support relevant to the Canadian Prairies.
A global ban on genetically modified crops would raise food prices and add the equivalent of nearly a billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, a study by researchers from Purdue University shows.

Apr. 18, 2016 - Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has released a short video on Fusarium to help producers understand more about the disease.

Fusarium graminearum is a hazardous and infectious disease that costs Alberta producers between $3 and $8.7 million annually due to reduced yields and downgrading.

"The effects of Fusarium graminearum on cereal crops in Alberta are devastating," says Michael Harding, research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF). "So a short video was created outlining how to manage it, in an effort to bring awareness about this important fungal disease."

The short video, "Stop Fusarium Before it Stops You," depicts the fusarium spores as little cartoon monsters running amok in Alberta. The video briefly outlines the causes and symptoms of the pest, and speaks to management practices to help stop Fusarium at the farmgate: "This is everything from selecting healthy seed that has been tested and proven to be free of Fursarium, to utilizing fungicidal seed treatments, to rotating crops, to employing in-crop fungicides, to irrigating at the right time," says Harding.

In 1999, Fusiarum graminearum was added as a declared pest under Alberta's Agricultural Pests Act.

View Stop Fusarium Before it Stops You.


Apr. 13, 2016 - Today, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report detailing the adoption of biotech crops, 20th Anniversary of the Global Commercialization of Biotech Crops (1996-2015) and Biotech Crop Highlights in 2015, showcasing the global increase in biotech hectarage from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 179.7 million hectares in 2015. This 100-fold increase in just 20 years makes biotechnology the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times, reflecting farmer satisfaction with biotech crops.

Since 1996, 2 billon hectares of arable land – a massive area more than twice the landmass of China or the United States – have been planted with biotech crops. Additionally, it is estimated that farmers in up to 28 countries have reaped more than US$150 billion in benefits from biotech crops since 1996. This has helped alleviate poverty for up to 16.5 million small farmers and their families annually totaling about 65 million people, who are some of the poorest people in the world.

"More farmers are planting biotech crops in developing countries precisely because biotech crops are a rigorously-tested option for improving crop yields," said Clive James, founder and emeritus chair of ISAAA, who has authored the ISAAA report for the past two decades. "Despite claims from opponents that biotechnology only benefits farmers in industrialized countries, the continued adoption of the technology in developing countries disproves that" James added.

For the fourth consecutive year, developing countries planted more biotech crops (14.5 million hectares) than industrialized countries. In 2015, Latin American, Asian and African farmers grew biotech crops on 54 percent of global biotech hectarage (97.1 million hectares of 179.7 million biotech hectares) and of the 28 countries that planted biotech crops, 20 were developing nations. Annually, up to 18 million farmers, 90 percent of whom were small, resource-poor growers in developing countries, benefited from planting biotech crops from 1996 to 2015.

"China is just one example of biotechnology's benefits for farmers in developing countries. Between 1997 and 2014, biotech cotton varieties brought an estimated $17.5 billion worth of benefits to Chinese cotton farmers, and they realized $1.3 billion in 2014 alone," explained ISAAA Global Coordinator, Randy Hautea.

Also in 2015, India became the leading cotton producer in the world with much of its growth attributed to biotech Bt cotton. India is the largest biotech cotton country in the world with 11.6 million hectares planted in 2015 by 7.7 million small farmers. In 2014 and 2015, an impressive 95 percent of India's cotton crop was planted with biotech seed; China's adoption in 2015 was 96 percent.

"Farmers, who are traditionally risk-averse, recognize the value of biotech crops, which offer benefits to farmers and consumers alike, including drought tolerance, insect and disease resistance, herbicide tolerance, and increased nutrition and food quality," Hautea added. "Moreover, biotech crops contribute to more sustainable crop production systems that address concerns regarding climate change and global food security."

Following a remarkable run of 19 years of consecutive growth from 1996 to 2014, with 12 years of double-digit growth, the global hectarage of biotech crops peaked at 181.5 million hectares in 2014, compared with 179.7 million hectares in 2015, equivalent to a net marginal decrease of 1 percent. This change is principally due to an overall decrease in total crop hectarage, associated with low prices for commodity crops in 2015. ISAAA anticipates that total crop hectarage will increase when crop prices improve. For example, Canada has projected that canola hectarage in 2016 will revert to the higher level of 2014. Other factors affecting biotech hectarage in 2015 include the devastating drought in South Africa, which led to a massive 23 percent decrease of 700,000 hectares in intended plantings in 2015. The drought in eastern and southern Africa in 2015/2016 puts up to 15 to 20 million poor people at risk for food insecurity and compels South Africa, usually a maize exporter, to rely on maize imports.

Additional highlights from ISAAA's 2015 report include:

  • New biotech crops were approved and/or commercialized in several countries including the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and Myanmar.
  • The United States saw a number of firsts including the commercialization of new products such as:
    • Innate Generation 1 potatoes, with lower levels of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen, and resistance to bruising. InnateTM Generation 2, approved in 2015, also has late blight resistance. It is noteworthy that the potato is the fourth most important food crop in the world.
    • Arctic apples that do not brown when sliced.
    • The first non-transgenic genome-edited crop to be commercialized globally, SU Canola, was planted in the United States.
  • The first-time approval of a GM animal food product, GM salmon, for human consumption.
  • Biotech crops with multiple traits, often called "stacked traits," were planted on 58.5 million hectares, representing 33 percent of all biotech hectares planted and a 14 percent year-over-year increase.
  • Vietnam planted a stacked-trait biotech Bt and herbicide-tolerant maize as its first biotech crop.
  • Biotech DroughtGard maize, first planted in the United States in 2013, increased 15-fold from 50,000 hectares in 2013 to 810,000 hectares reflecting high farmer acceptance.
  • Sudan increased Bt cotton hectarage by 30 percent to 120,000 hectares, while various factors precluded a higher hectarage in Burkina Faso.
  • Eight African countries field-tested, pro-poor, priority African crops, the penultimate step prior to approval.

Looking ahead to the future of biotechnology in agriculture, ISAAA has identified three key opportunities to realize continued growth in adoption of biotech crops, which are as follows:

  • High rates of adoption (90 percent to 100 percent) in current major biotech markets leave little room for expansion. However, there is a significant potential in other "new" countries for selected products, such as biotech maize, which has a potential of approximately 100 million more hectares globally, 60 million hectares in Asia, of which 35 million is in China alone, plus 35 million hectares in Africa.
  • More than 85 potential new products in the pipeline are now being field-tested; including a biotech drought tolerant maize from the WEMA project (Water Efficient Maize for Africa) expected to be released in Africa in 2017, Golden Rice in Asia, and fortified bananas and pest-resistant cowpea in Africa.
  • CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspersed Short Palindromic Repeats) a new powerful genome editing technology has significant comparative advantages over conventional and GM crops in four domains: precision, speed, cost and regulation. When combined with other advances in crop sciences, CRISPR could increase crop productivity in a "sustainable intensification" mode on the 1.5 billion hectares of global arable land, and make a vital contribution to global food security.

For more information or the executive summary of the report, visit


March 22, 2016, Canada – A national survey led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has found Verticillium wilt (Verticillium longisporum) in six provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

V. longisporum is a plant disease that impacts a range of crops, including canola. It was first detected in Canada in late 2014, in Manitoba. Since then, the CFIA, in partnership with industry and provincial partners, has conducted random surveys to determine its general distribution in canola-growing regions of Canada.

Verticillium is not a reportable plant disease in Canada and is not known to be regulated in other countries where it is found around the world. As the planting season approaches, grains and oilseeds producers are encouraged to develop and implement a biosecurity management plan to prevent plant pests from being introduced or spread on their lands.

Read more about Verticillium wilt in the Canola Council of Canada's Canola Encyclopedia.


POGA’s executive director Shawna Mathieson (with son Andrew) says higher levels of avenanthramides could give people even more reasons to eat oats. Photo by Shawna Mathieson, POGA.

Oats have a lot of things going for them when it comes to human health, and one of those things is a group of bioactive compounds called avenanthramides. So a three-year project at the University of Saskatchewan is laying the foundation to help breeders develop oat varieties with higher avenanthramide levels.

“Oats are a very unique crop. They are a cereal crop, but they are very different from most cereal crops, such as corn, rice and wheat. First of all, oats have a high oil content, which is not usual in cereal grains. For example, rice has about two per cent oil, but oats may have up to 18 per cent. The high oil content gives high energy, which is very good for feed,” explains Xiao Qiu, a professor in the university’s department of food and bioproduct sciences who is leading the avenanthramide project.

“Second, oats contain beta-glucan, a type of water-soluble dietary fibre with important health benefits.” The health effects of beta-glucan have been examined in many studies, and the two best-documented benefits are that it lowers cholesterol, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease, and that it reduces glycemic response after a meal, which helps control or prevent diabetes.

“And third, oats have avenanthramides, a type of polyphenol. Polyphenols are a big group of compounds that have many different types of functions, but avenanthramides are a unique type of polyphenol. They have very high antioxidant activity compared with some other polyphenols, and antioxidants are good for protection against cardiovascular disease and many other things. Avenanthramides also have strong anti-skin-irritation and anti-allergic activity. As well, [some research indicates] avenanthramides have high anti-proliferative activity; cancer cells grow very fast, so these kinds of compounds could inhibit cancer growth.” Although more research needs to be done to confirm the human health benefits of consuming avenanthramides, results so far suggest they may provide a variety of important benefits such as contributing to a reduced risk of colon cancer and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Avenanthramides are found only in oats, not other cereals. In fact, the “avena” in “avenanthramide” comes from the scientific name for oats, Avena sativa. The oat plant uses avenanthramides to help defend itself against pathogens.

Qiu notes that avenanthramides are being used commercially in skin lotions, creams and other personal care products. For example, Aveeno is a company whose name comes from its use of oats and oat extracts in its personal care products. “The basic functional compounds in Aveeno’s products are avenanthramides because of their very high antioxidant and anti-irritation activity.” Also, an Alberta-based company called Ceapro extracts avenanthramides from oats and sells the extract to companies for use in such products.

Qiu’s research program investigates the biosynthesis of bioactive compounds in plants and microbes, and includes studies of oat oil, beta-glucan and avenanthramides. His current avenanthramide project started in January 2015 and is funded by Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund and the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA).

Qiu and his research team have already completed this project’s first objective, which was to survey avenanthramide levels in oat germplasm. “If we want to increase the avenanthramide content in oats, we have to know which germplasm samples have higher levels. If the level is high in a sample, then an oat breeder could potentially use it as a parent for crossbreeding,” he says.

The researchers obtained germplasm samples from the university’s plant sciences department and from Plant Gene Resources of Canada, the Saskatoon-based national germplasm bank. Most of the samples were oat breeding lines and cultivars from Aaron Beattie, an oat breeder at the university and long-term partner in oat research with Qiu, but they also tested some wild Avena species to get a general idea of the range in avenanthramide levels.

Analyzing samples for avenanthramides is fairly complex. Qiu explains that oats contain up to 20 different types of avenanthramides, although normally there are only three major ones, which are known as avenanthramide-A, avenanthramide-B and avenanthramide-C. So his lab tested about 30 different germplasm samples for those three avenanthramides. The tests showed quite a wide range in avenanthramide levels.

His lab is now working on the second of the project’s two objectives: to find out how avenanthramides are made in the oat plant. “To improve this trait in oat varieties, you have to know the biosynthetic pathway – how avenanthramides are synthesized biochemically in the plant, what genes control the synthesis, what kinds of enzymes are involved, and all these kind of things,” Qiu says.

He adds, “If we know the genes involved, then oat breeders can design a molecular marker for the trait.” A molecular marker is a short sequence of DNA associated with a specific trait. Breeders use these types of markers to quickly screen germplasm for the desired traits in the lab, making their breeding efforts more efficient and effective.

Qiu notes, “I’ve talked to oat breeders here, and they haven’t made avenanthramides a priority trait in their breeding programs. Right now, they are focusing on things like disease resistance and yield. But you never know how things might go in the future.”

From superfood to super-duper food?
Down the road, if breeders are able to develop oat varieties with higher amounts of avenanthramides, then there could potentially be benefits along the oat value chain. “With an increased amount of avenanthramides, companies could use more oats in products like lotions and creams where they want anti-itching and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Shawna Mathieson, POGA’s executive director.

“And people would have even more reasons to eat this ‘superfood.’ Oats are already recommended by many doctors because the fibre in oats helps to reduce cholesterol. Some studies have shown that individuals with high cholesterol who consume just three grams of soluble fibre every day, or about the amount in a bowl of oatmeal, can lower their cholesterol. Avenanthramides have also been linked to prevention of cardiovascular disease and to protection against colon cancer and skin irritation. So higher avenanthramide levels would make oats even better for consumers.”

As research information about the health benefits of eating avenanthramides increases and as consumers become aware of these benefits, then higher levels of avenanthramides in oats could help to increase oat consumption by health-conscious consumers. She says, “That would mean higher sales and hopefully higher profitability not only for oat producers but also for those down the oat value chain.”

Qiu thinks avenanthramides could play a valuable part in further improving the reputation of oats as a functional food. “Although oats already have a healthy image, people are only paying attention to the beta-glucan content. But oats are not just about beta-glucan; they also have avenanthramides. Right now avenanthramides are used for cosmetics, but consuming avenanthramides is also good for you. Adding avenanthramides to the good image of oats would create more demand,” he says.

“For instance, people drink red wine because of the polyphenolics, but oats have a unique group of polyphenolics with stronger antioxidant activity than wine polyphenolics. People drink tea partially because of the tannins and other polyphenolics, but oats have avenanthramides with a better activity. So why not eat more oats?”


Feb. 16, 2016 - ChemChina's purchase of Syngenta could remove some of the suspicion around genetically modified crops and ultimately lead to more rapid user acceptance of biotechnology in food production in China, Syngenta's Chief Operating Officer Davor Pisk told Reuters.

The $43 billion all-cash deal unveiled last week is the largest foreign acquisition ever by a Chinese firm, and marks a massive upgrade to China's crop production potential.

The deal would also give Swiss-based Syngenta unrivalled access to China's massive, yet fragmented and underdeveloped, crop market. China is the world's largest grain producer, and is a major grower of vegetables, oilseeds, cotton and sugar.

The Basel-based COO of Asia-Pacific and North America, who is on a tour through Asia to address customer concerns about the pending takeover, said Syngenta had been limited in its activities in China as a foreign company but could now leverage ChemChina's local knowledge to build its share of the multi-billion dollar agrochemical and seeds market.

Syngenta is already the market leader in the fungicides and insecticides industry within China, with a roughly 6 percent share.

"Our crop protection market share in China is significantly below our market share in other parts of the World," Pisk said on Friday, adding that the company's average share in Asia is around 12 per cent, and nearly 20 per cent globally.

Cautious uptake of GM

The Syngenta executive noted that while cultivation of GM food crops remains illegal in China, there are indications that the government wants to move toward adopting more use of GM technology, but to do so in a very cautious way, as it recognizes a lot of consumer uncertainty and anxiety about the question of GM foods.

"One of the benefits of ChemChina acquiring Syngenta is to hopefully remove some of the suspicion around modern technologies as they relate to agriculture amongst Chinese consumers," Pisk said, adding that Chinese consumers had been reluctant to accept GM technology as long as it appeared controlled by foreign companies.

If the technology is owned by a Chinese entity, consumers will have more confidence in its safety, he added.

"This will ultimately lead to more rapid user acceptance and greater confidence that this can really contribute to a safer and more secure food supply chain in China," he said.

Pisk also argued that the deal fits with China's national ambitions to boost food security.

"This acquisition clearly is consistent with the stated strategic intent of the Chinese government which is looking to modernize its agriculture within China... I think that with ChemChina's move here, this will add capability to China's ability to invest in more sustainable agriculture practices within China."

Long-term focus

ChemChina's purchase still has to be signed off by global regulators, but Pisk says both companies are confident it will be approved due to the limited overlap of commercial interests.

"The overlaps are quite limited as far as we can judge them, so we think from that perspective the regulatory approval risks are low," he said.

Pisk also said that ChemChina is committed to supporting Syngenta's long-term strategies.

"The biggest benefit for us of course is having a stable shareholder with a commitment to our existing strategy as a standalone entity, committed to support our innovation, committed to support our expansion in emerging markets," Pisk said.


The beta-glucan project results may help barley breeders and processors who want to work toward further enhancing the healthfulness of barley food products. Photo by Janet Kanters.

Research has already proven that barley beta-glucan lowers cholesterol. Now a major clinical trial has answered some previously unanswered questions about this effect. Plus it has identified improvements in gut microbes from eating beta-glucan and a possible link between a person’s genetic makeup and beta-glucan’s effectiveness. Results from the project could help advance the food barley value chain.

Beta-glucan is a type of viscous dietary fibre. “Both barley and oats are rich sources of beta-glucan. In contrast, wheat contains almost no beta-glucan, and corn and rice have none at all,” explains Nancy Ames, a food scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Winnipeg, who was the project’s principal investigator.

The health effects of consuming beta-glucan have been examined in many studies. The two best documented health benefits are cholesterol lowering, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease, and reduction of glycemic response after a meal, which helps control/prevent diabetes.

Several countries, including Canada and the United States, have approved health claims on the cholesterol-lowering effect of barley beta-glucan. According to Health Canada, consumption of at least three grams of barley beta-glucan per day helps reduce cholesterol.

Ames and her AAFC team were the ones who prepared the submission for this health claim, conducting a comprehensive analysis of all the scientifically valid studies on the topic. The claim was submitted by the Alberta Barley Commission to Health Canada in 2009 and was approved in 2012.

While preparing the submission, Ames and her team found certain gaps in the scientific information. So she and Susan Tosh of AAFC’s Guelph Food Research Centre developed a multi-year project to delve deeper into barley beta-glucan’s cholesterol-lowering effect.

“Our first interest was whether processing made a difference to the cholesterol-lowering effect. We knew that processing can sometimes affect beta-glucan’s viscosity, and we wondered: Is it possible that low versus high viscosity makes a difference in cholesterol lowering?” Ames says. “We also wanted to look at the optimal dose of beta-glucan required for health effects because there wasn’t a proper dose-effect study. So we decided to look at those together.”

The project also explored the physiological mechanism responsible for beta-glucan’s cholesterol-lowering effect; the influence of beta-glucan on gut microbes; and a possible genetic component in people’s response to beta-glucan. The project involved both barley and oats; the researchers used oats in much of the work to develop measurement methods, and they used barley for the clinical trial.

To carry out the project, Ames brought together a large, multidisciplinary team that included Tosh and several scientists from the University of Manitoba and its Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, as well as technicians and graduate students.

A continuum of advances
The project involved a number of phases, with the progress made in each phase providing the foundation for subsequent work.

In the initial phase, the researchers used a range of processing treatments on barley to see if they could increase or decrease beta-glucan’s viscosity. They found that when normal barley is processed and prepared in normal ways, the beta-glucan has a higher viscosity than the untreated grain. Ames notes, “You always hear people say that processing is bad. But in this case, processing was good.”

The researchers also found certain techniques that reduced beta-glucan’s viscosity; those techniques are not commonly used in barley processing.

As part of doing this work, the researchers developed a faster way to measure beta-glucan’s viscosity. This method could also be used by processors to measure the beta-glucan characteristics of prototype food products, and by crop breeders to screen breeding materials.

Based on this initial work on processing and viscosity, the researchers were able to create barley foods with low and high viscosity beta-glucan for use in the clinical trial.

The trial compared the effects of four different breakfasts: a barley-based diet with three grams of high viscosity beta-glucan; a barley-based diet with three grams of low viscosity beta-glucan; a barley-based diet with five grams of low viscosity beta-glucan; and a heart-healthy wheat- and rice-based diet, as a control.

During the course of the trial, the researchers measured a number of health characteristics in the participants such as body weight, body fat distribution and blood pressure. They also collected blood and fecal samples, and analyzed the samples for various factors related to the cholesterol-lowering mechanism, gene-by-diet interactions, and gut microbes.

The clinical trial showed that viscosity definitely matters. Ames says, “Out of all the treatments, the high viscosity treatment had the greatest effect on lowering cholesterol.” Now in all their beta-glucan studies, the researchers measure not only the amount but also the viscosity of beta-glucan.

These results support the barley health claim. “Since normally processed barley foods have high viscosity beta-glucan, then health claims for the cholesterol-lowering effect of beta-glucan will be valid for the barley foods most commonly encountered by consumers,” Ames explains.

She adds, “It is easy to eat barley every day and get the amount of beta-glucan you need.”

The project also shed light on the mechanism of beta-glucan’s cholesterol-lowering effect. Through measurements of blood cholesterol and other factors, the researchers were able to identify which of several proposed mechanisms was likely to be the one responsible.

As well, they identified a possible gene-diet interaction. Although many studies have found that some individuals respond differently than others to dietary changes, this study is the first one to report a gene-related difference in response to beta-glucan. The results indicated that trial participants with a certain variant of a key gene had less of a response to beta-glucan’s cholesterol-lowering effect than participants with other variants of the gene.

That finding needs to be confirmed by further studies. If it is proven, then it would have implications for personalized nutrition. For example, potentially a doctor could simply do a blood test to see how well a patient would respond to beta-glucan as a possible treatment to lower his or her cholesterol.

The researchers were interested in the effects of beta-gluten on gut microbial populations because gut microbes are known to play a significant part in human digestion and health. The project’s results showed that consumption of the high viscosity beta-glucan meals significantly shifted gut microbe populations to a healthy pattern. This is the first clinical study to report gut microbial changes in humans due to eating beta-glucan.

The analysis showed that this microbial population shift was associated with reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure. Ames says, “Together, our results suggest that altering gut microbiota may be playing a major role in mediating the health benefits of beta-glucan.”

“I am really excited about our findings,” notes Yanan Wang, a PhD student involved in this project. She explains that better understanding of beta-glucan’s cholesterol-lowering mechanism could provide practical benefits. “By knowing the mechanism, we can use the physiological effects of functional foods in a more effective way.”

Overall, the project has achieved important advances in understanding how beta-glucan works in the human body and how to measure key characteristics of beta-glucan. These findings are helping Ames and her colleagues in their current beta-glucan research, including several clinical trials on viscosity and one on glycemic response.

The project’s results can also help barley breeders and processors who want to work toward further enhancing the healthfulness of barley food products. As well, the findings could help raise interest among health-conscious consumers in food barley products.


Jan. 11, 2016, Saskatoon, SK - Canary seed, which has been used almost exclusively as birdseed, has received novel food approval from Health Canada as well as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"With the achievement of this milestone, we're hopeful that the food industry and consumers will begin to adopt this nutritious, high protein, gluten free grain," says Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan chair, David Nobbs. "Up until now, production potential has been limited by the size of the market for birdseed."

Producer levies paid to the commission over the past decade supplemented by various government programs have made food approval possible. Extensive compositional, nutritional and toxicological work was required.

"Canary seed is the first novel cereal crop to be approved in Canada," notes Dr. Carol Ann Patterson of The Pathfinders Research and Management. Patterson is the food scientist who piloted all the work necessary for food approval. "Projects are continuing to determine the best food applications."

Canary seed flour can be used to make bread, cookies, cereals and pastas. Whole seeds can be used in nutrition bars and sprinkled on hamburger buns in place of sesame seed.

The approval covers glabrous (hairless) canary seed varieties, with both brown and yellow-coloured seeds. The glabrous varieties currently grown by farmers are brown when the hull is removed.

Dr. Pierre Hucl, the canary seed breeder at the University of Saskatchewan's Crop Development Centre will be seeking approval for a yellow line at the variety registration meetings in February. Nutritionally, brown and yellow are very similar, but the yellow seeds are more aesthetically pleasing in many food products.

It was Dr. Hucl's work to develop glabrous canary seed that started the effort for food approval. Beyond the breeding, it was Dr. Elsayed Abdelaal, a member of Dr. Hucl's team, who did the initial compositional, nutritional and toxicological analysis on the first hairless variety, CDC Maria, to show its similarity to other cereal grains. His work provided the core safety data for the Health Canada submission.

While canary seed is gluten free, those individuals with a food allergy to wheat may also be allergic to a protein in canary seed. Canary seed and canary seed products for human consumption will have to be labelled with a statement such as, "This product contains canary seed which may not be suitable for people with a wheat allergy".

"We hope that further work will lead to the removal of this labelling requirement at some future date," says Patterson. "On food products where wheat is a labelled ingredient, the cautionary statement will not be necessary."

The CDCS will establish a toll free number published at where any adverse reactions to canary seed can be reported. These will be passed along to Health Canada annually.

Another area of ongoing commission activity involves the approval of crop protection products.

"The herbicides and other crop protection products registered for use on canary seed for birdseed do not immediately have their registration extended to canary seed for food use," explains Kevin Hursh, executive director for the CDCS. "These products are registered on other food grains, and the commission is working to get expanded registrations for products that are important to canary seed production."

The food use approval is for dehulled canary seed. Commercial dehulling capacity may be required as food demand for the crop expands.

Saskatchewan is the world's top exporter of canary seed. Nearly 2500 Saskatchewan farmers have marketed canary seed within the last three crop years. In 2015, an estimated 149,000 tonnes of canary seed with a farm gate value of roughly $90 million was harvested from over 300,000 acres.


Sept. 15, 2015, Woodstock, ON - The Farm, Food & Beyond: Our Commitment to Sustainability initiative, was launched by farm and food industry leaders in a special presentation on the opening day at Canada's Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock.

This collaborative initiative of Ontario's farmers and food and beverage processors, will build upon the success of the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) program. By expanding the scope into a whole farm sustainability plan, this project addresses not only environmental practices but also economic and social issues important for sustainability. Together, the farm and food community is taking a supply chain approach to sustainable production and processing.

The initiative has been developed by the following supporters: The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Christian Farmers' Federation of Ontario (CFFO), the Presidents' Council, Ontario Agri Food Technologies, the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), Farm & Food Care Ontario and in close collaboration with Provision Coalition

Since 1991, more than 38,000 Ontario farm families have completed an Environmental Farm plan (EFP), resulting in millions of dollars in environmental improvements on their farms. This new initiative will build on the success of the EFP program with four objectives:
· To guide farmers in the identification of needs/opportunities for improvement in sustainability
· To assure/inform the general public about these transformations
· To help address growing requirements by food manufacturers and retailers for assurance that farm products have been produced in a sustainable manner
· That the supply chain is working together towards sustainability improvements from farm to fork

In explaining the initiative, Dr. Gord Surgeoner, Chair of the Sustainable Farm Coalition steering committee, said that the project "demonstrates our commitment to people, our planet and profitability. Just as was the case with the EFP program which has served Ontario agriculture well for 25 years, we want to create a system that reduces redundancy, is farmer friendly and provides a platform that will serve for another quarter century."

In addressing the crowd, Don McCabe, President of the OFA, said that, "Farmers and agri-business increasingly have to respond to public perceptions, media scrutiny and consumer demands. We as farmers work hard on social responsibility and animal care. This initiative will help demonstrate that to our consumers."

Lorne Small, President of the CFFO, said, "Without profitability at the farm level, there is no sustainability in the complete supply chain. Operating our farms in a socially and environmentally responsible way is also key to agricultural sustainability."

In his remarks, Scott Graham, Chairman of the Presidents' Council, commented, "We recognize that agriculture is diverse and that some commodities are already working on international and customer standards. We want to acknowledge these and not create duplication. This is about reducing redundancy."

Speaking on behalf of Farm & Food Care Ontario, Chairman John Maaskant said, "We as farmers have worked hard to care for our farm animals and our land. Farming – and producing food sustainably – needs to be scientifically verified, economically viable and ethically grounded. Millions of dollars in research and pre-existing programs like the national Codes of Practice for animal welfare are examples of that."

Alan Kruszel, President of OSCIA said, "The Environmental Farm Plan has been a tremendous success and we have been proud to deliver this self-learning process to thousands of farmers. We are excited to work with our partners to build upon the success of the EFP, enhancing it to become Farm & Food Sustainability Plans."

In wrapping up the program, Robert Cash, Chairman of the Provision Coalition expressed his support for the collaboration, "Food and beverage manufacturers are used to staying ahead of the curve. With the farm community, we are developing a sustainability program that will facilitate responsible sourcing, supply chain cooperation and more transparent food systems. Consumers are asking and together we are responding."

A report entitled Our Commitment to Sustainability, which is a basis for the long term initiative, is available online at

This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council and Ontario Agri Food Technologies assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario. It has also received support from the Grand River Agricultural Society.



August 11, 2015 - BFGoodrich tires has announced it is recalling approximately 129,000 tires that were sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Approximately 6,400 of the recalled tires were sold in the Canadian market. These tires are primarily found on commercial light trucks, as well as full-sized heavy-duty vans, small RVs and some 3/4 and one ton pick-up trucks.

This recall, which has been reported to Transport Canada, includes eight specific commercial light truck tire sizes that were produced under the following three product names: BFGoodrich Commercial T/A All-Season, BFGoodrich Commercial T/A All-Season 2 and BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain T/A.

BFGoodrich has observed that a limited number of these tires experienced a rapid loss of air pressure due to a rupture of the sidewall in the bead area under severe usage conditions.  This can result in a potential risk of loss of vehicle control or vehicle crash.  At this time, there have been no injuries or fatalities reported.

BFGoodrich recommends consumers remove these tires as soon as possible in order to receive a similar product at no cost.

To return and replace these tires at no cost, please visit an authorized BFGoodrich dealer for assistance. To locate a BFGoodrich dealer visit For questions or concerns please contact BFGoodrich Consumer Care at 1 866-424-2638 (Canada).

In Canada, the BFGoodrich tires brand is licensed to operate by Michelin North America (Canada) Inc.

July 28, 2015 - A new procedure devised by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists to extract lunasin from soybean seeds could expedite further studies of this peptide for its cancer-fighting potential and other health benefits.

In addition to inhibiting certain cancerous cells in laboratory tests, lunasin has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity that may prove helpful in the battle against some chronic diseases. Unfortunately, obtaining sufficient amounts of lunasin has been a costly, time-consuming and laborious affair. This, in turn, has impeded lunasin’s investigation in large-scale animal and human clinical trials, according to Hari Krishnan, a molecular biologist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Plant Genetics Research Unit in Columbia, MO.

Now, however, Krishnan and ARS colleague Thomas Wang report their development of a fast new procedure for extracting lunasin in amounts suitable to conduct these trials. Using the new procedure, they produced 3.2 grams of a concentrated form of lunasin, along with two protease inhibitors, from 100 grams of soybean flour. The actual extraction is done with a 30 per cent solution of ethanol, followed by centrifuging steps and the addition of calcium chloride to further purify the concentrate, explains Krishnan. Wang leads the agency’s Diet, Genomics, and Immunology Laboratory in Beltsville, MD.

The entire process takes less than 2 hours and yields far more lunasin and protease inhibitor concentrate than other methods that have been tried, including sophisticated chromatography procedures and live cultures of genetically modified yeast or bacteria. Besides being faster, the new method can also be easily scaled up to yield much larger amounts, Krishnan and Wang report in the January 2015 online version of Food Chemistry.

Test-tube experiments conducted by Wang demonstrated the extract’s biological activity, inhibiting the production of inflammation-causing cytokines by human leukemia cells derived from a line called THP-1, which is commonly used in biomedical research.

Their investigations coincide with increased scientific attention on the preventive role that consuming soy or soy products can play in reducing breast, colon and other cancers.

June 17, 2015 - The Farmland Health Check-Up, the newest installment of the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI) suite of programs, is now open. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association has forged a unique partnership with Ontario’s Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) to make the Farmland Health Check-Up available for farmers in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds and the Lake Huron southeast shores watershed.

This program is designed to help farmers identify Best Management Practices that aim to improve the health and sustained productivity of their farm operations as well as the broader health of the Great Lakes. The Farmland Health Check-Up was developed by specialists from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs with assistance from the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association and the Ontario Certified Crop Advisors Association.

The Farmland Health Check-Up provides farmers with a unique opportunity to work with a CCA free of charge. Utilizing the expertise of CCAs, the Farmland Health Check-Up helps farmers assess challenging areas on their farm and identify BMPs that will improve the soil and pollinator health on their operations.

“We can sometimes overlook some of the most critical aspects of our soil health; going through the Check-Up with a local CCA will help bring those crucial areas to the forefront,” says Alan Kruszel, president of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.

Each Farmland Health Check-Up will be conducted by a local CCA, chosen by and at no cost to the producer. In exchange for a Farmland Health Check-Up coupon, a CCA will provide up to three hours of their time to help a farmer located in the eligible areas to complete a Farmland Health Check-Up on-farm assessment for their operation. Farmers will be able to access the coupons online at, by picking up a coupon in store at participating agricultural retail locations across the eligible area, and by clipping the coupon from agricultural print publications. Completing the Check-Up with a CCA is a prerequisite for funding that will become available later in 2015 to help implement eligible BMPs identified during individual Check-Ups.

“Working in partnership with Ontario’s CCAs, the Farmland Health Check-Up has the capacity to make a big impact for many farmers, and an even bigger impact on the health of the watersheds. A pilot project took place in March with a number of CCAs who took the Farmland Health Check-Up to the countryside to test its applicability and the process that’s been put in place. The results were extremely encouraging,” notes Christine Schmalz, environmental programs manager.

“The Ontario Certified Crop Advisor Association is very pleased to be partnering with Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association on this proactive stewardship program. The CCAs involved in the pilot reported it was a great opportunity to talk in-depth with growers about soil health and to jointly look at beneficial stewardship practices that also improve yields,” expresses Susan Fitzgerald, CCA executive director.

The Farmland Health Check-Up will run until January 2018, as annual budgets allow. For more information, please visit our website at any questions, please contact Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association by phone (226-706-8669) or by email ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Funding for GLASI is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Apr. 14, 2015 - The federal government has contributed over $1 million for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops' (CRSC) work to establish metrics on sustainable crop production.

"Consumers are increasingly demanding more information about the characteristics of the food they eat," Mark Brock, co-chair of the CRSC and a director with Grain Farmers of Ontario, said in a news release. "Canadian agriculture has made great strides in reducing our environmental footprint; this project will give us a consistent and scientifically reliable way to report on our sustainability with a lot of credibility."

Carried out over three years, the Crop Sustainability Metrics Platform will be designed to enable Canadian suppliers to respond with knowledge and authority to global marketplace demands for sustainability information and, in turn, position Canada as a recognized world leader in the sustainable production of grains, oilseeds, pulses and special crops. This project will provide a collective solution on sustainability reporting that balances value chain needs from producers to consumers.


Nov. 24, 2014 - Consumers in Saskatchewan now have access to reliable and credible information on food and farming via a new website:


"This website shares the story of modern-day food production with consumers," emphasizes Adele Buettner of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan. "With only two per cent of Canadians now having a direct link to the farm, it's important for those of us involved in agriculture to help consumers make the connections between what we farm and what they eat."

The website answers questions related to farming and food production in Saskatchewan, and provides plenty of interesting facts for consumers to consider and digest. Topics range from why Saskatchewan is ideal for food production, to where our products are exported, to how farmers and ranchers care for their animals and the environment.

Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan is an all-encompassing organization that represents thousands of livestock, crop and horticulture farmers and related businesses. Its mandate is to foster a link between food producers and consumers, and create awareness and appreciation for food production and farming.

"Today, more than ever, people are asking where their food comes from," states Joe Kleinsasser, chair of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan. "We want consumers to know that the food we farm in Saskatchewan is healthy, safe and responsibly grown; that farmers and ranchers are innovative, technologically advanced and care deeply about the animals and land they work with."

Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan will be officially launched at an industry conference, Farms at the Table: Menus of Opportunity, December 10-11 at the Sheraton Cavalier in Saskatoon. Day 1 is a skills-building day focusing on communications and networking, and Day 2 involves top-level speakers discussing the hows and whys of connecting with consumers.

The Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan interim board has been working hard on behalf of producers to establish the new organization. Representatives on the interim board include: Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Bison Association, Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association, Saskatchewan Egg Producers, Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, SaskCanola, SaskMilk, Sask Pork, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan.



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