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Non-GM Glyphosate Tolerant Flax

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Written by Kelvin Heppner, Portage, Tuesday, 15 March 201

Jim Radtke is the vice-president of product development with Cibus, a San Diego-based plant trait development company "We're expecting it to reach the marketplace around the 2015, 2016 timeframe," he says.

Radtke explains they're able to create glyphosate-tolerant varieties through Cibus' Rapid Trait Development System (or RTDS.)

"It's basically a form of mutagenesis. We're using the same techniques that plant breeders have used for many years to create new traits, except the difference is ours is quite targeted. We can go right to a piece of DNA and make the change we want to make," he says

He says regulators in U.S. and Canada agree that their RTDS method is not genetic modification.

"So if one can develop traits that are not classified as trans-genic or GM, then certainly it opens up doors from a market access perspective," he says.

The $6 million project is a partnership between Cibus, the Flax Council of Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

"One of the main reasons why we were able to develop this project with the Flax Council was because of the interest in making sure we don't compromise markets in Europe," says Radtke.

So how does Cibus expect to recoup its investment, considering farmers can save seed from year-to-year?

"We typically develop a trait which adds value at the farmgate. We hope to be able to share in that value through a royalty situation or something like that," he says.

Radtke notes the RTDS platform will eventually allow them to develop other traits.

"That's the real value of our technology. Once we develop the platform for flax, then we can start targeting other genes of interest. We could certainly look at other herbicide tolerances, but there are other possibilities too, such as oil modification, disease tolerance and things like that."