The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Canadian Flax Growers Plan a Roundup Resistant Strain That May Also Resist EU’s GM Resistance In New $5.5m Collaboration with Cibus Global

Canada, the world’s largest flax producer, is looking to maintain its dominance. Growers want the economic advantages of a roundup-resistant variety without jeopardizing sales into the European Union. The E.U. accounts for 60% of Canadian flax exports, but genetically-modified crops face continued resistance in many E.U. countries.

The solution may be generated by a collaboration announced yesterday between the Flax Council of Canada and San Diego company Cibus Global.

According to an article in Xconomy San Diego today, the Flax Council is “investing about $5.5 million” to develop a new strain of Flax using Cibus’ Rapid Trait Development System (RTDS).

Cibus’ technology is a targeted mutagenesis approach that “harnesses the natural DNA repair system in plant cells.” According to the Flax Council’s press release, the technology is exempted under the E.U. Directive on GMOs and is classified as “non-transgenic” by the USDA.  Of course, regulatory compliance in the E.U. does not guarantee political or commercial success.

Two interesting take-aways from a commercialization perspective:

  1. $4 million of the $5.5 million paying for the Flax Council’s half of the project comes from the Canadian Government’s Developing Innovative Agri-Products program (DIAP).  It is unusual for federally-funded development programs to flow so readily to projects executed outside the country. 
  2. Revenues from developed products would be split between the Flax Council and Cibus.

The project aims to bear fruit generate a commercial seed product by 2015.

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