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AmeriFlax Statement on the Use of Flaxseed for the Production of Plant made Pharmaceutical and Industrial Products

AmeriFlax recognizes the value of using biotechnology in agricultural products approved for food and feed use.  We also acknowledge that potentially significant humanitarian and economic benefits may ensue from the development of medical or industrial products made from traditional food, feed or fiber crops. 

Thus said, flaxseed has been grown for centuries in Europe and North America.  Over the years, conventional hybridization and genetics have gradually improved quality and production attributes in traditional flaxseed.  American flax producers have developed important foreign and domestic markets for flaxseed based on predictable quality and compositional characteristics.  These present day markets have not accepted transgenically modified (GMO) flaxseed nor do they accept the premise that GMO flaxseed can coexist with or be distinguished from traditional flaxseed.  

The current economic acceptance of U.S. flax by the global community is heavily dependent on the preservation of the genetic integrity of present day flaxseed.  In addition, both domestic and international markets have no acceptable tolerance levels for flaxseed that could contain an ingredient not intended or approved for food or feed use.  Contamination of the flaxseed gene pool, whether inadvertent or deliberate, would do irreparable harm to American flax producers and the domestic flaxseed industry.     

AmeriFlax recognizes the progress that government and industry have made to date in protecting the safety of public health, the environment and food and feed crops from contamination with genetic material not approved for food or feed use.  However, current regulations and production protocols are not adequate to guarantee 100% containment and pose an intolerable risk to consumers, processors, flax producers and domestic flax production.

We urge the appropriate government agencies to develop protocol to protect food and feed crops such as flaxseed from transgenic changes that could compromise its present composition and market acceptance.   

Until provisions are in place that would prevent unintended or deliberate transgenic changes of U.S. grown flaxseed and until a plant-made pharmaceutical or industrial product is approved for food or feed use and accepted by world wide markets, AmeriFlax recommends that flaxseed not be permitted to be altered transgenically and grown in North America for pharmaceutical, industrial or scientific purposes. 

AmeriFlax is a trade organization that represents North Dakota flax producers, who grow 95% of U.S. flax and over a third of the total North American crop.  The organization is funded by producer check-off dollars from the North Dakota Oilseed Council.  The purpose of AmeriFlax is to increase the use and sale of U.S. grown flax and byproducts in domestic and foreign markets.  United States producers planted 354,000 acres of flax in 2008 with North Dakotans seeding 335,000 acres of these.