Timeline: Detection of genetically modified herbicide tolerant wheat in Alberta (2018)
Timeline of key activities: January 31 to July 20, 2018
January 31: The Province of Alberta informs the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about finding a few herbicide-tolerant wheat plants in southern Alberta.
February 12: The CFIA laboratory receives samples of wheat seed from the Province of Alberta and begins testing.
February 15: The CFIA confirms that Alberta's samples are genetically modified (GM) and herbicide-tolerant.
February 16-20: The CFIA runs further tests and, based on the presence of certain DNA sequences, determines that there are two companies that could have been the developer of this GM wheat.
February 19: The CFIA informs Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Health Canada (HC). Risk and safety assessments of the wheat begin for human health, the health of animals and the environment.
February 22: The CFIA contacts both companies, including Monsanto, to obtain samples from possible wheat lines.
March 9: The CFIA receives the first samples from the companies that were contacted.
March 13: The CFIA rules out one company after testing its samples and determining that it is not a match for this GM wheat.
March 23: Testing by the CFIA and Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) confirms that this GM wheat does not match any of the 450 registered wheat seed varieties sold in Canada.
March 28: The CFIA confirms that the herbicide-tolerant wheat was not a match with previous incidents in the U.S.A.
April 6: The CFIA concludes development and validation of a testing method to detect this GM wheat.
April 6: The CFIA receives samples from Monsanto to test the other possible wheat lines.
April 8: Testing by the CFIA confirms that the wheat contained genetic elements that match an event provided by Monsanto. This event (MON71200) is not approved in any registered wheat variety.
April 9: The CFIA receives and begins testing CGC's wheat samples from their 2017 Harvest Sample Program.
April 20: The landowner is informed of the finding. The CFIA collects information to identify possible scope and presence of this GM wheat.
April 20-25: Seed and grain samples from the landowner's farm are collected and sent to CFIA lab to test for this GM wheat.
April 26: The CFIA confirms that no GM wheat was detected from CGC's samples.
May 1: Results of all seed and grain samples taken on farm are negative for this GM wheat.
May 8: Wheat heads from field surrounding the access road are dry enough for the CFIA to collect and test.
May 9: HC and CFIA complete risk and safety assessments of this wheat and confirm this trait does not pose a risk to public health, health of animals or the environment.
May 23: Laboratory testing of wheat heads is completed. Only four wheat head samples found immediately beside the access road were positive for this GM wheat. All other samples were negative.
May 24: With testing completed, the CFIA analyzes all results to determine whether any reasonable avenues remain to be explored. Transition from inspection activities to monitoring activities begins.
June 14: CFIA officials hold a technical briefing for media to announce the GM wheat finding and actions taken by the Agency. An Incident Report is posted on the CFIA's dedicated GM wheat web page.
June 15: Japan temporarily suspends Canadian wheat imports. CFIA works with Japan to organize a visit by Japanese technical experts for the following week.
June 18: South Korea announces temporary suspension of Canadian wheat imports.
June 19-21: Japanese officials visit Canada and meet with officials from the CFIA, AAFC and the CGC to discuss testing, scientific evidence and to visit facilities.
June 20: The CFIA conducts in-field monitoring at the site of the incident following a glyphosate spray. No living wheat plants are found anywhere other than along the access road where the original isolated wheat was discovered.
June 22: CFIA officials confirm that the unknown wheat detected in Alberta is not durum wheat. Durum wheat is primarily used in pasta and couscous, and represents a large share of Canadian exports in some countries (e.g. Italy, Morocco, Algeria).
The CFIA Genotyping/Botany lab completes validating the testing methodology that was provided by Monsanto to detect GM wheat event MON71200. This means CFIA lab is able to replicate Monsanto's testing methodology to successfully test for the specific GM wheat variety.
The CGC routinely monitors shipments for quality assurance purposes and announces it will use the CFIA test methodology to test each cargo shipment to monitor for the presence of the GM wheat variety and report any potential findings of GM wheat to the CFIA.
June 26: South Korea announces it is lifting its temporary suspension of Canadian wheat.
July 20: Japan announces it is lifting its temporary suspension of Canadian wheat.
Ongoing: The CFIA will continue to work with the landowner to monitor the area over the next three years to prevent any GM wheat from persisting. Prevention measures will consist of using herbicides, keeping the land fallow or not growing cereal crops in the coming years, and performing regular inspections of the site to verify that no GM wheat is present.
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