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A new source of omega-3
Known for their many health benefits, including protection against heart disease, omega-3 fatty acids have surged in popularity. The global market for omega-3 fatty acids was valued at more than $7 billion in 2010. But supplies of omega-3 derived from fish oil are diminishing due to low fish stock caused by pollution and overfishing. Facing a looming shortage, a team of researchers led by biochemistry professor Marc Surette at Université de Moncton is developing a plant with seed oil rich in a type of omega-3 that is similar to that found in fish. The plant, Buglossoides arvensis, grows prolifically in Atlantic Canada’s cool, damp climate.
Surette is working with Nature’s Crops International, a Canadian subsidiary of an American specialty oils company, to commercialize the new omega-3 oil, pending regulatory approvals from Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The recently trademarked AHIFLOWER™ Oil is aimed at the dietary supplement and nutritional food markets.
Largely influenced by Surette’s research, Nature’s Crops International was established in Kensington, Prince Edward Island in 2009. It now employs 20 highly qualified staff and in 2011 it opened a biorefinery on the island to extract oil from locally grown oilseed crops.