Group says GM alfalfa a nightmare scenario

Genetically modified alfalfa threatens Canada’s entire organic grain sector, says Manitoba Organic Alliance.

Organic farmers won’t be able to shield their farms from pollen because insects can spread it as far as three miles, says the group.

Contamination will then create a trade barrier for any Canadian crop exported to GM-free countries, said Ken Sabatier of Growers International, a Winnipeg-based exporter of organic grains.

“Canada lost a multimillion-dollar flax market into Europe because of GMO cross-contamination in flax,” said Sabatier. “The risk presented by GM alfalfa puts in jeopardy millions more due to the organic industry’s reliance on alfalfa as a rotation crop. GM alfalfa could put the viability and integrity of the organic grain industry into question.”

Drought hits Cargill’s bottom line

reuters / Cargill blamed last year’s drought for a 42 per cent drop in quarterly earnings, citing pressure on both its meat and grain operations.

Cargill, one of the world’s largest privately held corporations, said the drought had a “prolonged impact.”

The company has been warning since last summer the drought would hurt its meat operations by tightening cattle supplies and raising production costs. In February, it closed a beef plant in Plainview, Texas, that employed 2,000 people.

The company’s net earnings for the third quarter fell to $445 million, from a record $766 million a year earlier.

Agrium wins proxy battle with Jana

reuters /Shareholders of Canadian fertilizer company Agrium elected all 12 board candidates from the company and none from activist shareholder Jana Partners, ending a five-month-long proxy battle.

Jana wanted to break up the production and retail parts of the company, arguing it would generate a better return for shareholders.

Jana said earlier that the vote was tainted and should be investigated, but Agrium said the result was “fair and square.”

Winter storms ease drought conditions

chicago / reuters / Some drought-stricken areas of the U.S. received badly needed moisture, but it also stalled corn seeding.

“It’s getting close to when they would like to plant corn, but there won’t be a whole lot of field work for the next 10 days,” John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring, said recently.

Agronomists said wintry weather probably damaged a portion of the hard red winter wheat crop in Kansas and Oklahoma. However, any moisture is welcome after the worst drought in more than 50 years.

The latest USDA report says 36 per cent of the U.S. winter wheat crop was in good to excellent condition, up from 34 per cent but well below the year-ago rating of 61 per cent.

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