The approval for Nuseed, a subsidiary of Australia’s Nufarm Limited, follows a similar approval from the Australian authorities earlier this year for cultivation, food and feed.

“The USDA approval marks another major milestone in the development and commercialization of this important new product,” said Greg Hunt, managing director and CEO of Nufarm.

“It also confirms the safety and quality of the product, as well as the regulatory advances being made in multiple jurisdictions.”

The deregulation of the USDA marks a decisive step towards the worldwide regulatory approval of rapeseed, which contains the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid, C20: 5 n-3) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, C22: 6 n-3). Before the oil can be used in food and feed applications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must complete processing of the filings submitted by Nuseed. According to the company, FDA approval is expected before the 2019 US growing season.

Omega 3.

The most important omega-3 fatty acids available on the market are EPA and DHA from the sea and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, C18: 3 n-3) from plants such as flax and chia.

Omega-3s are not made equal, however, and different fatty acids have been linked to different benefits.

Much attention has been paid to the switch from ALA to the longer chain EPA, with many experts setting this switch to only 3% to 20% for vegetarians. The proportion of ALA converted into DHA is very low.

Cardiovascular health.

Nuseed developed the omega-3 rapeseed oil in collaboration with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). Image © Getty Images / weiXx

The strongest and most established science for the marine omega-3s (EPA and DHA) relates to cardiovascular health, as Dr. Jorn Dyerberg and his staff at The Lancet and The American in the early 1970s reported to the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

So far, EPA and DHA have been associated with improvements in blood lipid levels, a reduced tendency to thrombosis, improvements in blood pressure and heart rate, and improved vascular function. In addition to heart health, numerous convincing studies support fatty acids for cognitive function, mood and behavior, eye health, joint health, mother and child development, and sports nutrition.

The combination of a rapidly growing market demand and an “unexpandable” market for fish oil has created a great opportunity for other sources. Alternatives that are already on the market are krill, algae, and even copepods. But it is the potential of getting omega-3 oils from plants that is exciting some very big players.

Pre-commercial studies.

Nuseed successfully planted 15,000 acres of its omega-3 canola in Montana this year under USDA notification. The company is currently harvesting this crop and the oil it produces will be used in ongoing pre-commercial trials in key markets, the company said.

The omega-3 oil is initially marketed for aquaculture feed and is known as Aquaterra. Human nutrition applications will follow under the brand name Nutriterra.

First on the market.

Nuseed is sure to be the first to launch its omega-3 oil, ahead of others like Cargill (in partnership with BASF), which is on the right track, rapeseed that is engineered to be higher Contains EPA and DHA levels, to be launched sometime after 2020.

In Europe, the British Rothamsted Research works with Camelina, one of the oldest oilseeds in Europe. The UK team, led by Prof. Johnathan Napier, program director for omega-3 camelina at Rothamsted Research, published field test results in Nature’s Scientific Reports last year, confirming the promise of the team approach.

For more information on using GM technology for omega-3 production, please visit HERE.

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