Energy policy in EU and US: new publication by rising academic talent

January 25, 2012

In 2011, I had the priviledge to act as external on Alphanso Williams’ Masters thesis defense.  It was an outstanding effort by a very talented young academic.  Alphanso’s enthusiasm has served him well as he tackles policy issues around energy.  In this article entitled “Wishful Thinking in Energy Policy:Biofuels in the US and EU” in Energy Politics 2011 (developed out of Williams’ Masters research), Alphanso and Dr. Bill Kerr contrast and compare US and EU energy policies.  


“It would appear that in both the European Union and the United States, the shortfalls in meeting the mandates are likely to be significant. For those contemplating investments in the energy sector, both where biofuel mandates have been put in place and around the world, this creates considerable uncertainty.”

“…the restrictions on technology and land use could be removed allowing more agricultural land to be diverted to production of biodiesel and corn-based ethanol. This would likely re-ignite the food-versus-fuel debate…”

In short…

“None of these options is politically palatable. There is no obvious policy choice.”

Congratulations, again, to Alphanso on his successful defense.  His work points out some of the problems with existing energy policies. This article will represent a first in many, I am sure

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Study on attitudes of EU farmers on GM Crop Adoption.

January 16, 2012

New study in Plant Biotechnology Journal on Attitudes of European Farmers on GM crop adoption by Areal et al (December 2011).


“The willingness to adopt GMHT crops from a number of European farmers would be significantly affected by the implementation of coexistence measures, especially those that mean an economic burden for the farmer.”

For more info, see copy of article below!

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Transgenic Flax research and trials being carried out in EU

January 13, 2011

Several months ago, as colleague Viktoriya G and I were developing our Flax Breeders paper, I came across some interesting information in the Deliberate releases and placing on the EU market of Genetically Modified Organisms database.  This database is under the umbrella of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre/Institute for Health and Consumer Protection.

What information, you ask?  Well, listed therein are three summary notifications of submissions made under Directive 2001/18/EC outlining the experimental release of transgenic flax varieties in the EU.  

The first was submitted by Plant Science Sweden AB for the release of linseed lines genetically modified for altered oil composition in seed (using the variety “Flanders” – a noted CDC variety (circa 1989).  This experimental release was intended to span the years from 2005-2009. The GM event here involved the enhancement of oils in the flax.

The second submission was made by The Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ,University of Wroclaw, Poland.  This submission, made in 2006, with a proposed period of release of 2006 – 2010 used the breeding lines Nike and Linola.  The GM event in this case involved the improvement of fibres quality and the increase of antioxidant capacity in the varieties.

Third, was a submission in 2007 made by a company in the Czech Republic, AgriTec Research, Breeding and Services Ltd, for the Evaluation of genetic modifications for use in flax breeding.  The period of release, in this case, is quite a bit longer – 2007 to 2016.  Presumably, it is still in progress.  Cultivars are not identified. The GM events listed are enhanced herbicide tolerance, fungal and insect tolerance and enhanced capacity to absorb heavy metal pollutants.

These flax-based submissions/experimental releases represent only three out of a list of almost 3000 notifications of transgenic crops (in various other varieties and for release in many other countries). So, even though there is strong opposition to GMOs, it appears that research in transgenics in the EU is prevalent.  The total amount of field trial area for the experimental transgenic flax is minuscule, comparatively speaking.  Nevertheless, if Canada should, in any way, move away from research in flax transgenics, do we would stand to lose important markets, a potentially competitive edge and key knowledge as a result?   

(see for more information and a link to the Galushko/Ryan paper on flax breeding, IPRs and FTO)

Outline of Protocol Development for sampling/testing CDN flaxseed/shipments to the EU (2009)

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Background information on genetically modified material found in Canadian flaxseed

excerpt from:The Canadian Grain Commission website

Protocol development

  • The Canadian Grain Commission and the Flax Council of Canada, along with other Canadian government departments and agencies, developed a protocol for sampling and testing Canadian flaxseed shipments to the European Union.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency were involved in the development of the protocol.
  • The objective of the protocol is to help the Canadian flaxseed industry meet the European Union’s strict import requirements, which include a zero tolerance for unapproved genetically modified material.
  • The protocol was submitted to European officials the week of October 19, 2009. Canadian Grain Commission officials traveled to Brussels, to explain the Canadian grain handling and quality assurance systems and answer questions on aspects of the protocol.
  • The European Commission recommended to individual European Union Member States that the protocol be accepted. The European Commission expressed its satisfaction with the protocol on October 29, 2009. At present, the imposition of emergency measures by individual Member States in the European Union has been avoided.
  • The acceptance of the protocol is only the first step in resuming Canadian flaxseed shipments to the European Union. Many details concerning the implementation of the protocol are currently in development.


More developments on the EU Biotech Policy

“…Importing biotech crops for feed and food will continue to be regulated as now. Member states would not be allowed to prohibit the import and/or the marketing of authorized biotech products. The current list of authorized biotech crops for feed and food use includes one sugar beet, three soybeans, three rapeseeds, six cotton and 17 corn products. What would change is that once a new biotech crop is authorized for cultivation, member states would be able to ban it across all or part of their country for socioeconomic, ethical and moral reasons other than those included in the health and environmental risk assessment of the EU.”

EU Biotech Policy Debate Continues
Ross Korves
July 23, 2010

“In 2009 the EU grew 234,000 acres of the one biotech corn (MON810) authorized in 1998. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), Spain had 187,900 acres of biotech corn, the Czech Republic 16,000 acres, Portugal 12,600 acres, Romania 8,000 acres, Poland 7,400 acres and Slovakia 2,200 acres. Germany and France had previously grown biotech corn. Romania grew 360,000 acres of biotech soybeans in 2006 before joining the EU in 2007. A biotech starch potato, known as ‘Amflora’, was authorized for cultivation and industrial processing in March 2010. Austria, Luxembourg and Hungary have already notified the Commission they will prohibit its cultivation.”

Full article at:…