Approval sought for 'DHA rich' canola fish feed oil

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/matka_Wariatka
© iStock/matka_Wariatka

Related tags Docosahexaenoic acid Omega-3 fatty acid

A genetically modified (GM) plant-based, omega-3 oil may be on its way to the aquafeed market in the US and Canada if Nuseed’s regulatory requests are approved.

The Australian company, a subsidiary of Nufarm, is awaiting the regulatory approval needed to bring its long-chain GM omega-3 canola seed to the US, Canada and Australia.

Pending approvals, commercialization of the canola seed would start in 2018 or 2019.

It said it has submitted filings to the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada in Canada; and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

“Reaching these regulatory milestones in all three countries gives us both timing and location options as we commercialize canola based long-chain omega-3​,” said Brent Zacharias, Nuseed group executive. 

The company is looking at those three countries because they are already “key canola growing regions,”​ said a spokesperson.

If approved, the regulatory submissions would include both the ability to grow the crop in those locations and the use of the oil commercially, she told us. “We are in pre-commercialisation stages, which encompasses multiple regulatory and trial requirements for both agronomic performance and feed applications, including aquaculture,”​ she added.

Nuseed would sell the canola under licence to growers. The canola would be cultivated in a closed-loop grain and oil processing system.

Feed uses

The oilseed was developed in collaboration with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and its Grain Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). Work on the project started in 2011. 

This company said microalgae genes were added to the canola, using genetic breeding technologies, so that the crop is rich in omega-3. It said it has successfully achieved high levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the oilseed. 

Aqua feed is a priority target sector because of the need for long-chain omega-3 oils in the production of farmed fish, said the spokesperson.

The omega-3 oil generated by the plant is expected to be available for use in feeds for several species, she added. 

Both DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are important for fish health and use of a plant-based omega-3 oil is intended to help relieve the supply pressure on fish oil derived from wild fish stocks - Nuseed estimated that one hectare of canola production should produce a similar omega-3 yield to that generated by 10,000kg of fish.

Short-term goals  

One goal for this year is to cultivate around 4,000 acres of the omega-3 canola in the US, with the stewardship of the USDA, said Nuseed. The project would be for pre-commercial production.  

The global seed company has focused its efforts to this point of the development of canola, sorghum and sunflower to generate improved feed and food in multiple areas, it said.

It works on establishing new plant traits and hybrid seeds.

US agribusiness giant, Cargill, is also active in this field. It recently announced​ that it is involved in a canola oil development project targeted at the fish feed segment.

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