Canada

Biotechnology is a double-edged sword, farmers learn

Seed growers say biotechnology is posing some problems for them. The growers are worried about losing markets, as consumers shy away from genetically modified foods.

It's not difficult for individual farmers to keep genetically modified seeds separate from the rest of their products by using separate bins. But once that grain is delivered to an elevator, it is mixed with dozens of other farmers' shipments. And that poses a dilemma for growers.

Dozens of seed growers heard a blunt message on Tuesday, from the United Kingdom's largest bread maker. Warburtons is the biggest processor of Canadian wheat in Europe. And a spokesperson for the company says its customers don't want to eat genetically modified grains. As a result, the company has vowed to do whatever it takes to keep genetically modified grains out of the bread it makes.

Genetically modified wheat isn't licensed in Canada yet. But that day is coming. And if the handling system can't keep the genetically modified grains separate, growers say it could kill the market for everything they produce.

Farmers like Lyle Wright wonder if the biotechnology is worth the headache. "Don't come out with some technology that locks me out of markets and costs me money," he said.

Growers say the issue is a long way from being resolved.

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