The discovery of over 1200 marihuana plants found in a farmer's field in Traveller's Rest late last month illustrates just how serious the problem of drifting can be, especially for organic producers, says the women's district director of the National Farmers Union.
On July 24, members of the Prince District Joint Forces Operations Drug Unit were in the field after receiving a tip from the public that there were marihuana plants located there. The search resulted in the seizure of 1,250 immature marihuana plants, which is one of the largest plant seizures ever in the province. The plants were interspersed with the actual crop and consisted of both male and female marihuana plants. The location of the field was not released.
A statement from the RCMP indicates police are operating on the assumption the plants likely originated from a crop of marihuana being planted in the general area of the field at some time in the past that later went to seed.
"The seeds would have been worked into the soil when the farm land was tilled, resulting in the haphazard pattern of plants throughout the large field," the police noted. "While it is common to find small pockets of marihuana plants in situations similar to this, this is an anomaly and illustrates how outdoor marihuana grow operations can have unintended results."
Edith Ling agrees wholeheartedly. She said the seizure reminded her of the case of Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser, who fought a lengthy court battle with Monstanto on patent rights, after roundup ready canola seed drifted onto his farm. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada . The case, which Schmeiser eventually lost, drew worldwide attention.
The women's district director said she is especially worried in cases where genetically modified crops are grown in close proximity to non-GMO varieties. For example, she said the province has built up a good market selling non-GMO soybeans to Europe and Japan.
"If they ever got contaminated with GMO products, that market would be gone just like that," she noted.
As well, she said producers are finding themselves dealing more and more with "super weeds" -nuisance plants that grow very fast and spread very quickly. Ling said drifting between farms can unfortunately helps that process.