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2-Plants: Bromoxynil-resistent GE canola approved in Canada

mailinglist genet-news
March 17, 1999

Canada Approved Genetically Modified Canola Tolerant to an Herbicide 
Causing Birth Defects

by Joe Cummins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Genetics,
University of Western Ontario

Canada has approved genetically engineered canola patented by the 
multinational chemical company Rhone Poulenc for their herbicides 
Bromoxynl and Ioxynil. The herbicide Bromoxynil  has a history of 
controversy in its use after it was found that it caused birth defects in 
rats and mice.

In the United States, the use of Bromoxynl on cotton was a source of 
controversy. However, in Canada (where government departments of

Agriculture and Health take multimillion dollar  payments from chemical 
companies) the herbicide was quietly approved and used extensively to 
control weeds in grain crops that are innately tolerant to the herbicide.

The herbicide Bromoxynl is sprayed on the Bromoxynl-resistant canola.  As 
the herbicide is very persistent in treated soil, when farmers rotate 
crops, Bromoxynl residues can accumulate in grains rotated on the same 

Residues of the teratogenic herbicide are likely to accumulate in the 
harvested canola oil and in the cattle and pig food from the residues 
recovered from pressing canola seed to recover oil.   Such pressing 
residues have also been used as fertilizer on organic farms, a procedure 
that should  be reviewed on the basis of transferring genetic 
modifications and teratogenic herbicides.

The journal Biotechnology  noted that there was a very high likelihood 
that the herbicide tolerant gene would be transferred to unpatented 
canola and to at least seven wild plant species but the transfer to wild 
plant was a minimal threat as the resistant species could be controlled 
by other herbicides as they became weeds.

The impact of use of the genetically modified crop on biodiversity  was 
given brief discussion with no data and no fundamental knowledge of 

Another  genetically modified canola, Liberty Ready canola,  also employs 
a highly teratogenic herbicide glufosinate. Importers of canola oil or 
animal feed from pressed seed should be made aware of these developments 
and that the products are not labeled. Clearly the Canadian approval 
process bears the stamp of the millions of dollars from chemical 

The information on approval of  Bromoxynil resistant canola was taken 
from Plant Biotechnology Canada August 19,1998

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-| Co-ordinator
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
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