Canada and China join forces to increase canola yields

Posted by James Ferre on 11th August 2008

The National Research Council Canada (NRC) 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 canola. They are hoping to increase the yield of canola to capitalise on skyrocketing demand for healthy oils.

Over the next five years, the Oil Crops Research Institute will contribute $300,000 in cash and the NRC Plant Biotechnology Institute (NRC-PBI) will contribute $210,000 worth of facilities and analytical resources to complete the first project under this agreement.

Dr. Roman Szumski, NRC’s Vice-President, Life Sciences, visited the Oil Crops Research Institute last week to strengthen ties between both research organizations and believes the agreement will produce great results. “This is a historic event where, for the first time, China is investing directly in agricultural research in Canada to advance a crop important to both countries,” said Dr. Szumski. “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.”

“This agreement makes eminent sense, given that Canada is where canola was developed,” added Dr. Han-zhong Wang, Director of the Oil Crops Research Institute. “Food and energy shortages are an escalating problem and increasing canola productivity is something that can help these global issues.”

The first project to be undertaken under this agreement is to complete genomics work on canola to identify genes that affect yield and adaptation to various environmental stresses.

The canola market is currently being driven by high demand for oils with no trans fats and low saturated fats.

Australia has also sought to improve the yield of canola, with permission now granted for GM canola to be grown in Victoria and NSW.