13 research projects deploy genomics to address challenges in Canada’s natural resources and environment sectors

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Montréal, Québec

$110 million investment in projects look to mitigate the effects of climate change on forestry and fisheries, protect the Arctic, and support polar bears and other wildlife.

Science plays a critical role in providing the evidence necessary to harness the power of Canada’s natural resources in a way that is sustainable, innovative and leads to jobs that grow the middle class. The knowledge emerging from genomics can help those in the natural resource and environment sectors take advantage of new opportunities, which drive sustainability, growth, productivity, commercialization and global competitiveness.

Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, announced $32 million in federal support for 13 large-scale applied research projects that will help multiple sectors and regions within Canada use genomics to solve long-standing challenges. In addition, $78 million will be invested in these projects by co-funders from provinces, international organizations and the private sector, among other partners. 

Today’s announcement was made at the Université de Montréal’s Biodiversity Centre, where Minister Duncan highlighted one of the funded projects focused on preventing toxic outbreaks in drinking water. Dr. Sébastien Sauvé’s project promises to help guard against algae blooms contaminating drinking water for millions of Canadians whose water sources are increasingly under threat from algae blooms and cyanotoxins.

Adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change is a strong theme that runs through many of the projects, as they will look at finding ways to breed healthy, productive forests, preserve the genetic diversity of rainbow trout and strengthen conservation of the polar bear.

Quotes

“These new genomic research projects strengthen Canada’s position as a leader in producing evidence-based solutions to come of our grandest challenges. In addition to growing the economy and improving the quality of life for middle class Canadians, they will accelerate our drive toward clean technologies and other approaches that will safeguard our water and biodiversity, lower our carbon footprint and protect our environment.

– The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“The natural resource and environment sectors are areas where genomics is just starting to emerge as a powerful tool to help address issues facing many traditional industries. These new projects will tap into the huge potential for innovative, genomics-based solutions that will help some of our key industries – mining, forestry, fisheries – revive and thrive in the face of climate change, while also protecting our precious ecosystems, drinking water and wildlife.”

–Marc LePage, President and CEO, Genome Canada

Quick Facts

  • The natural resource industries directly and indirectly account for almost 19 per cent of nominal GDP and around 1.8 million jobs. In addition, natural resources exports account for more than half of Canada’s merchandise exports and were valued at $235 billion in 2013.
  • A hallmark of these projects is that they include research from the standpoint of the social sciences and humanities, with a view to identify societal issues upfront so that the science can be transformed into sound practices and policies that enhance the impact of genomics in society.
  • Furthermore, several projects involve close collaboration with northern communities both to marry traditional Indigenous knowledge with cutting-edge genomics science and technology, and to equip residents of potentially affected communities with effective surveillance tools and management strategies.

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