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Designing Oil seeds for Tomorrow’s Markets

Status: 
Past
Competition: 
Competition III
Sector: 
Agriculture and Agri Food
Genome Centre(s):
Genome Alberta
Project Leader(s):
Randall Weselake (University of Alberta), Wilf Keller (National Research Council), Gopalan Selvaraj (National Research Council)
Fiscal Year Project Launched: 
2005-2006
Project Description: 

Canola is Canadian invention. Along with closely related crops such as condiment mustard, this nutritionally superior oilseed accounts for $2.5 billion of economic activity, and is found in 70% of all Canadian vegetable oil products, from salad oil to mayonnaise and margarine. But canola is something more: a crop low in saturated fats that is healthy for human and animal consumption, a source of meal for animal feed applications and can be used for a wide range of environmentally friendly industrial applications.

Randall J. Weselake, Canada Research Chair in Agricultural Lipid Biotechnology at the University of Alberta’s Agricultural Genomics and Proteomics Centre, and Wilf Keller, Research Director at the National Research Council of Canada’s Plant Biotechnology Institute (NRC­PBI) in Saskatoon, are project leaders of Designing Oilseeds for Tomorrow’s Markets.

This research project aims to use genomic technologies in order to develop canola with desired seed coat characteristics and decreased levels of anti nutritional factors. It is anticipated that the results of this research will enhance the overall usefulness of canola seed leading to improved meal for new food and feed applications, and increased seed oil content.

A major focus of the project involves a detailed assessment of the molecular events in the developing seed coat. In addition, the project will develop and implement strategies to decrease levels of undesirable compounds known to reduce the value of animal feed.

The project involves a team of researchers with combined expertise in biochemistry, molecular genetics, bioinformatics, plant breeding and biotechnology. The impact of this research is expected to be maximized through an international collaboration with Germany, creation of a bioinformatics platform and commercialization of prototype germplasm. An important component of the project is research into the social, ethical and economic implications of oilseed design.

Integrated GE3LS Research: Examining Canada’s Regulatory System for Plants with Novel Traits (PNTs)
GE3LS Project Leaders: Peter Phillips, University of Saskatchewan

Summary
The current PNT regulations were established in 1994 and, over time, there is a view that the regulatory process has become both increasingly costly and decreasingly relevant to the risks inherent in new novel traits. This research will examine the regulatory requirements for firms trying to commercialize PNT plant varieties and the rationale for the current mix of regulations. The research will endeavour to provide a cost comparison between the cost to obtain PNT variety approval with the initial varieties of GM canola and the present day cost (i.e. has the cost changed). This information will be used to assess whether there has been a cost increase or decrease. The nature of the regulatory system will also be assessed, in an effort to determine whether the regulatory system is capable of handling new risk factors in forthcoming novel trait varieties.