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News 590 views last update:14 Jan 2016

Canada: Harper Gov. makes flax crop sweeter for farmers

Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification and member of Parliament for Blackstrap the Honourable Lynne Yelich, announced recently on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz that the Harper Government is providing an investment to Prairie Tide Chemicals so that it can recover bioactive peptides and test them for safety for use in pharmaceuticals and neutraceutical.

"This is a great example of innovation finding value-added uses for what was previously considered waste," said Minister Yelich. "Creating additional revenue streams from flax will make the crop more valuable for farmers and help the agricultural sector continue to thrive." Flax and flaxseed oil are popular health foods because they are sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The bitter taste of these products can be sweetened to make them more palatable, and this process produces a waste by-product of peptide-rich concentrates and pure peptides. These natural peptides could replace more expensive synthetic peptides that are currently used in health foods, pharmaceuticals, and skincare products.

Today's investment of more than US$200,000 will help develop methods for commercial-scale recovery of flax peptides from the waste of the flax sweetening process, and then use these fractions of peptides to understand how they work and whether they are safe for entry into the bioactive market. Over the longer term, the development of safe bioactive peptides could create opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector.

"Flaxseed oil was used as a medicine by Hippocrates and is used by the healers of many civilisations," said Martin Reaney, President and CEO of PTC. "We now know that the orbitides make a significant contribution to the health benefits of flax. PTC will make new and healthier flaxseed products that will enhance the flax value chain."

Canadian farmers will benefit from technology that transforms a waste by-product into a high value bioactive ingredient for use in consumer products. Saskatchewan farmers grow 70% of Canada's flax and 20% of world production. This project will give the Canadian flax industry access to neutraceutical and bioactive markets and open the way for product innovation.

This project is funded under the Agricultural Innovation Programme a US$50 million initiative announced as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2011.

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