The planted area for genetically engineered (GE) crops in Canada fell by 2% in 2018 from the previous year because of a decreased soyabean area in agricultural provinces, according to a 12 December Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), World Grain reports.

“Much of the soybean reductions were in the prairie provinces, where farmers increased wheat planted area in anticipation of much lower soybean yields from dry planting conditions and from expected moisture deficiency through the growing season,” the USDA said.

In the marketing year 2018/19, the overall decrease of 13% was the result of the soyabean planted area growing 9% in Ontario, but decreasing by 6% in Manitoba and 52% in Saskatchewan.

The USDA noted that researchers in Ontario were developing high linoleic soyabean varieties to supplement the current shortage of linoleic oils. After achieving the desired levels of linoleic acid, researchers had begun to focus on improved yields that would make these high linoleic soyabean varieties more commercial.

“Industry sources have expressed some frustration with sluggish soyabean growth in demand from the food industry, given the level of investment to develop high-oleic soyabeans,” the USDA said. “Greater demand from the food industry for high oleic oils would create a price signal that may incentivise more production and more crushing in Canada.”

The report said that in 2018, Canada planted about 12.2M ha of GE crops, mostly soyabeans, corn, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa.