Dow Scientists Report Breakthrough in Canola Engineered as Omega 3 Alternative to Fish Oil

We can expect salad dressing to someday provide some of the same health benefits as fish, adding value to canola as a food ingredient and addressing marine sustainability concerns.

Scientists with Dow AgroSciences say they’ve figured out a new way to produce canola oil rich in DHA and EPA — the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil associated with heart and brain health.

The field trial results were published in Nature Biotechnology on Monday.

The group genetically engineered canola using omega-3 fatty acid-producing genes from microalgae.

“The final canola oil processed from the seeds contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that can be marketed directly as bottled canola oil or in other food ingredients such as salad dressings,” explained Kan Wang, biotech researcher and director of the Center for Plant Transformation at Iowa State University, through the Genetic Experts News Service.

Wang has worked with Dow in the past but was not involved in the omega-3 canola project.

One serving of the oil (3 teaspoons) can provide 600 mg of omega-3, which is more than the daily dose recommended by most global health organizations, he noted.

Making fish oil from plants for conservation purposes has been done before, said Wang. What’s different about the approach taken by Dow’s scientists is that it “allows the engineered seeds to produce additional fatty acids instead of just converting existing fatty acids into polyunsaturated fatty acids, a strategy used in earlier efforts.”

The advantage of this method, he says, is that it does not accumulate other intermediate fatty acids, which can “increase oxidative instability of the oil and often are the culprit of off-flavors for oil products.”

Dow is not the only company actively working on omega-3 canola oil. Cargill and BASF have a similar project underway. Nuseed is also working with research groups in Australia.

Related: “Fish Oil” Cookie Fights Cholesterol and Tastes All Right Too


Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin


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