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Canola And Flax Get Funding Boost

A new joint research cluster to focus on the nutritional benefits of canola and flax has picked up an “extraordinary” $14.5 million in federal funding

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz recently pledged the funding for the Canola Council of Canada and Flax Council of Canada, for what the Canola Council described as the Canola/Flax Agri-Science Cluster. The cluster is meant to focus research on three areas within the canola sector — oil nutrition, meal nutrition and production — and on the nutritional benefits of flax for humans and animals.

Canola Council president JoAnne Buth described Ottawa’s pledge as an “extraordinary investment in agronomic research.”

The council, whose stated goal is to boost Canadian canola production to 15 million tonnes by 2015, has pledged a total of $5 million more from its own core funds and the three Prairie provinces’ canola grower groups for the research cluster. The total pledged funding will cover production, oil and meal studies of industry-wide benefit that are “not already covered by the private sector,” the council said.

The production research will target ways to improve crop establishment, nutrition and protection; harvest and storage management; integrated crop management and sustainability, the Canola Council said.

The nutrition studies, meanwhile, will look at canola and flax oils’ impact on heart-disease risk markers; the effect of canola oil on the prevention and treatment of insulin resistance, inflammation and obesity; and canola oil’s influence on glycemic control and heart disease risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes as well as on blood vessel function in people with healthy and compromised arteries.

And the canola meal studies are to focus on the best formulations for dairy cow milk production, the impact of high levels of different types of canola meal in swine and poultry feeds, and improving the carbohydrate composition and energy content of canola meal.

The Flax Council, meanwhile, has pledged funding and administration for the two flax-related nutrition studies. “The planned clinical trials are aimed to move the flax industry closer to its goal of attaining health claims in its target markets,” the government said.

“Scientific substantiation of health benefits is a cornerstone in which Canadian flaxseed is marketed globally,” Flax Council president Barry Hall said in the government’s release, “and the results that will arise from this research will be invaluable to our industry across the value chain.”

CLUBROOT FUNDING

On top of the cluster funds, Ritz also announced $4.6 million in federal support for the Clubroot in Canola project, another Canola Council-led project to connect university researchers with the federal ag department’s plant pathologists and biochemists to develop strategies to prevent the spread of clubroot.

According to the Canola Council, the clubroot research will focus on identifying best management practices and breeding clubroot-resistant canolas.

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