Global seed company Nuseed, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australia’s Nufarm Ltd, has submitted a genetically modified strain of canola producing omega-3 for regulatory approval in Australia.

Further submissions for the canola strain, which would provide long-chain omega-3 oils using a sustainable land-based source, would be sent to US and Canadian authorities by the end of March, Nuseed said in a statement on 21 March.

“These submissions reflect our confidence in, and commitment to, the science, safety and global potential of our omega-3 programme,” said Brent Zacharias, Nuseed group executive.

The proprietary canola was developed through collaboration between Nuseed, Australia’s national science agency Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and the investment firm Grains Research and Development Corp (GRDC), with an aim to help relieve pressure on global wild fish stocks, currently the major source of omega-3s.

Nuseed said providing a land-based source for omega-3s would help maintain adequate supply in the face of increasing global demand.

The company anticipates that one hectare of its canola strain could provide omega-3 yields as high as 10,000kg of fish.

It said it planned to grow up to 1,600ha of the crop this year, with commercialisation expected to commence in 2018-2019, in the USA under a closed-loop grain handling and oil processing system.

Nuseed also announced two end-use market specific brands of the resulting oil product, Aquaterra for aquaculture feed uses and Nutriterra for human nutrition applications.

The omega-3-producing canola was a result of a research collaboration between Nuseed, CSIRO and GRDC set up in 2011 to develop high quality, sustainable, renewable and reliable sources of long-chain omega-3s for human consumption.

The development project extracted the oil producing genes from ocean microalgae in which it originates and added them to canola.

Initial work had successfully achieved high levels of DHA in the canola-based oil, which Nuseed said was a prominent requirement for many potential end-use markets.

“The project represents a significant advancement in the development of crops that deliver additive downstream consumer benefits,” the company statement read.

USDA data shows that approximately 70M tonnes of canola is produced annually worldwide, and the large global production, coupled with good agronomic understanding of the crop, spurred Nuseed to choose it for the omega-3 project.