Australian regulators have approved a new omega 3-producing GM canola variety for food and animal feed applications, developed by Australian agrichemical firm Nufarm’s subsidiary, Nuseed.

Nufarm said its canola was the first plant-based source of omega 3 fatty acids and that one hectare of the oilseed could potentially give an omega 3 yield comparable to 10,000kg of wild caught fish, reported Undercurrent News on 13 February.

The review and approval by Food Standards Australia New Zealand meant that the modified canola could be used for both animal and human nutrition in Australia and New Zealand.

Nufarm planes to initially introduce the omega 3 oil produced from the canola for aquaculture feed uses under the Aquaterra brand, followed later by human nutrition applications under the name Nutriterra.

Andy Thomas, global general manager of innovation and strategy at Nuseed, told Undercurrent News that the company would focus on continuing research activities related to further field trials in 2018.

“We remain on track with our plan to commence commercialisation in 2019, with production programmes planned in the USA, pending US approval,” Thomas said.

Nufarm had received approval from the USA for scaling up its pre-commercial production under the US Department of Agriculture notification scheme, with planting scheduled to take place in April and May in Montana.

Thomas said that the company would now begin to consider regulatory applications in other markets that recognised Australia as a reference country.

“We will soon be lodging submissions in Asia, which is a large and growing market over coming months, particularly in relation to omega 3 nutraceuticals,” he said.

Plant-based sources of omega 3 oils could relieve pressure on wild fish stocks, which are the primary source of the fatty acids.