With demand for healthier oils increasing, research centres in Canada and China have teamed to investigate ways of increasing oil yields from canola.
The National Research Council Canada and the Oil Crops Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences have signed an agreement to collaborate on genetic research to improve the production of the crop.
Over the next five years, the OCRI will contribute CAN$300,000 in cash and the NRC Plant Biotechnology Institute CAN$210,000 worth of facilities and analytical resources to complete the first project under the agreement.
This will be to complete genomics work on canola to identify genes that affect yield and adaptation to various environmental stresses.
Roman Szumski, NRC's vice-president, life sciences, visited the OCRI earlier this month to strengthen ties between both research organisations.
"This is an historic event where, for the first time, China is investing directly in agricultural research in Canada to advance a crop important to both countries," he said. "This collaboration will help Canada and China develop higher yielding canola, increasing both our countries' reputations for scientific excellence in agricultural research and creating a competitive advantage for Canadian and Chinese agricultural producers."
Han-zhong Wang, director of the OCRI, said: "This agreement makes eminent sense, given that Canada is where canola was developed. Food and energy shortages are an escalating problem and increasing canola productivity is something that can help these global issues."
Canola oil is growing in popularity thanks to its healthy profile. It is low in saturated fat, high in Omega 3 and free of cholesterol and trans-fats. Canada's Canola Council says the crop is worth CAN$13.8 billion a year to the Canadian economy.
In November, Cargill is scheduled to open a canola research and production centre in Aberdeen, Saskatchewan, in Canada.? It will be just 48 miles from Cargill's existing canola crush facility.