Category Archives: Wheat

The Future of Wheat Farming is Glyphosate Residue Free – Exclusive Interview with Axis Farms

Sustainable Pulse - Dec 18, 2019

Sustainable Pulse interview with Axis Farms’ Partner, Mark Sanders, discussing the future of wheat farming in Canada and why they decided it is important to certify their harvest as Glyphosate Residue Free.

Glyphosate Residue Free certification is now being embraced by farmers, ingredient suppliers and brands around the world. You can find the latest certified brands and producers here.

Axis Farms is a 4500 acre conventional wheat farm in Altamont, Manitoba, Canada. Axis Farms is now a 4th generation farm that started in Canada after WWII. Immigrating from Belgium, The Sanders family has always strived to supply the food chain. Today, Axis Farm, the family’s company, is growing and supplying wheat to the food chain.

What brought you and your family into farming?

We started farming because we enjoyed the down to earth lifestyle that farming gives. From tilling the soil, planting seeds, to watching the seedling grow, to timely process of harvesting the crops, to the quieter times in the winter, farming offers a lifestyle that requires patience, endurance, and clear thinking, and the opportunity to experience nature’s beauty.

What crops have you concentrated on producing and why?

We concentrated on producing wheat because wheat is so important in society’s diet. People are turning away from wheat because of gluten intolerance and celiac disease. We believe that the reasons this is happening is the deficiency of plant nutrition when growing in the fields and the amount of chemical residue on the wheat. We grow our wheat with less chemical, and no glyphosate.

Axis Farms is leading a new wave of farmers that are certifying their produce as Glyphosate Residue Free. Can you tell us why you have gone down this path?

We have always felt that it is unnecessary to use glyphosate as a desiccant on wheat. There are other ways to dry the crop before harvest that do not increase the chemical residue on the grain. Today with the links of glyphosate to cancer, it makes the practice of not using glyphosate all the more important.

Does Axis Farms have any other certifications for their high protein hard red spring wheat or any other produce?

None yet, only Glyphosate Residue Free.

What do you believe the future is for wheat farmers in your region?

Wheat is still one of the primary foods for much of the world. But there is pressure to change the demand on wheat because of the health problems linked to it. The future of wheat farming, I believe, is going to have to reduce chemical inputs, as more and more people are turning away from wheat.

It is very important that we generate consumer confidence in the wheat grown in all of North America and that confidence is eroding. We need to make a ‘reduced chemical’ wheat. ‘Reduced chemical’ wheat would not have glyphosate sprayed on it for desiccation; have weeds controlled with minimal chemical inputs; and have plant diseases controlled by soil nutrition and biological sprays. ‘Reduced chemical’ wheat is achievable.

Are there any specific changes in the industry that you would like to see?

We need to build consumer confidence in the wheat supply. Consumers are looking for non-wheat diets and for expensive chemical-free foods (Organic). I want to see an affordable ‘chemical reduced’ wheat supply for the public and for food manufacturers. I want to see a food supply in all restaurants and grocery stores in North America that has items with ‘reduced chemical’ wheat flour that is attainable for everyone.

If you are a food manufacturer or ingredient supplier and you would like to source Glyphosate Residue Free wheat please contact Mark at Axis Farms here.


Background: Genetically Modified Wheat Contamination in Canada and the US

There are no genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) wheat varieties approved anywhere in the world. None have ever been commercially grown and sold. However, field trials of different GM wheat varieties continue in Canada and the US, at undisclosed locations.

Contamination from Monsanto’s GM herbicide-tolerant wheat


Monsanto’s GM trait for glyphosate-tolerance was found in wheat plants growing on a road in southern Alberta in 2017, in a contamination incident reported by Canadian regulators on June 14, 2018.[i]

There have been three GM wheat contamination incidents reported in the US (2013, 2014, 2016), all with Monsanto’s GM herbicide-tolerant (glyphosate-tolerant) “Roundup Ready” wheat.

In 2004, Monsanto withdrew its request for approval of its GM “Roundup Ready” wheat in Canada and the US after protests from farmers and consumers along with resistance in the international market.

The last time Monsanto grew trials of its GM wheat in Canada was in 2004 (2005 in the US).[ii]


Pasta Spats: Canadian Wheat Exports to Italy Slump over Glyphosate

The world’s largest pasta maker says it has had to cutback Canadian imports of durum wheat – a key ingredient in pasta – because of ongoing consumer concerns about the use of a popular weed killer – glyphosate.

Barilla’s purchasing director Emilio Ferrari told grain groups in Toronto last week the company has cut back their Canadian wheat imports by 35 per cent, despite the fact Canadian durum wheat is of exceptional quality. No contracts for Canadian durum are being signed right now, he said.

The reason is that some Italian consumers are fearful Canadian wheat has been “poisoned” because it tested positive for traces of the popular and widely-used herbicide glyphosate, he said………..

…..However, glyphosate has come under intense public scrutiny in Europe, with Italy banning the use of the chemical as a pre-harvest treatment in 2016. “We never use it but they banned the usage, because we don’t need it,” Ferrari said. He told attendees at the Canadian Global Crops Symposium his company is currently unwilling to accept shipments with glyphosate tracings above 10 parts per billion.

Concerns about glyphosate will continue to be an issue, he said – urging Canadian producers to find an alternative. However, Canadian producers argue the current limits set by Italy are simply too low to meet because glyphosate is commonly used within acceptable limits and traces of the herbicide are found throughout this country’s bulk handling grain system. The majority of Canadian durum wheat is not treated with glyphosate pre-harvest.

Italy’s decision followed a review of the herbicide by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) in 2015 that listed the herbicide as a Group 2a carcinogen, meaning it probably causes cancer in people…….

….Canada and Italy have been embattled in a simmering trade dispute over durum wheat exports for several years, stemming from a “Made in Italy” country of origin label.

Under the policy, which was set to take effect in mid-February, processors are required to identify where their durum wheat was grown and milled into the semolina flour used to make pasta. Similarly, rice packaging must identify where the rice was grown, treated and processed.


How Famine Under the Nazis Revealed the Cause of Celiac Disease

In the winter of 1944, the city of the Hague was going hungry. In fact, all the cities of the western Netherlands were hungry. Railway workers and the country’s government in exile had defied German occupiers with a strike. In response, the Nazis significantly cut off the country’s most populated region from food supplies. The canals also froze, making transportation and escape impossible. What resulted was the “hunger winter,” a famine of unprecedented scale.

Solutions were few. Fuel ran out quickly, and some residents even ground up tulips to make flour. One group, however, wasn’t suffering as much as expected. In the Hague’s Juliana Children’s Hospital, pediatrician Willem Karel Dicke noticed that the children in his care with celiac disease were improving, even as they starved.

Doctors had known about celiac for years. But there was no consensus on its cause, or how to treat it. It acquired its name in 100 A.D., when Greek* physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia was stumped by an ailment with symptoms of weakness, malnutrition, and diarrhea, which he dubbed koiliakos.

Today, celiac disease is known to be a genetic autoimmune disorder. Those afflicted have a severe reaction to gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat. It can be a challenge to diagnose, but once identified, the treatment is simple: eating a diet free of gluten.

But at the dawn of modern medicine, celiac remained a frustrating mystery to doctors. Even worse, the disease had the greatest effect on children.

Food was airdropped in April, ending the hunger winter. Fotograaf Onbekend/Nationaal Archief/Anefo/CC0