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Industry benefits from new crop research projects; Camelina and Carinata focus crops for Prairie Gold

January 13, 2011

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Industry is supporting a new crop research initiative to develop Camelina sativa (False flax) and Brassica carinata (Ethiopian mustard) as renewable alternatives for petroleum-based products. Prairie Gold is an innovative $4.5 million project managed by Genome Prairie and funded federally and provincially through the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA).

Today, the Honourable Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan Minister of Enterprise and Minister Responsible for Trade, and Member of Parliament Kelly Block, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, recognized the project's industry-driven initiatives and ground level involvement.

"We are pleased to support the Prairie Gold initiative, which will bring more value for our farmers and for Saskatchewan," said Harrison. "The WEPA funding will allow Genome Prairie to manage this project, helping to build a strong, sustainable future for Saskatchewan."

"Our Government is proud to support innovative projects that help strengthen our economy," said MP Block. "This exciting initiative will help diversify Saskatchewan's agricultural sector, while developing new markets for producers and promoting new commercial opportunities."

Future commercialization of these new crop varieties will lead to increased oilseeds diversification, providing growers with more choices for crop production and potentially increased revenues. With end-use applications such as lubricants, hydraulic fluids, greases and polymers, these two varieties have the potential to help industry access new markets without compromising the safety and value of existing food and feed markets.

"The Prairie Gold project provides an opportunity for industry to collaborate with government and academic research institutions for sharing genetic traits and breeding lines for commercialization of new industrial oil-seed crops," said Dr. Steve Fabijanski, President and CEO of Agrisoma Biosciences Inc. "High-quality industrial feedstocks will allow a bio-product industry to manufacture environmentally-friendly, value-added alternatives to petroleum-based products. Agrisoma hopes to see acceptance of these new industrial crops as they will benefit all levels of society."

"We're interested in a greener, more sustainable future for farmers and for all Canadians," said Jack Grushcow, President and CEO of Linnaeus Plant Sciences Inc. "This is significant support for the bioproducts industry which will help position these oil crops as viable commercial substitutes for petroleum in a range of important products. The work being done here in Saskatchewan, in the laboratory and on the farm, will help shape a more carbon-neutral planet for future generations."

Genome Prairie will pilot the research project in collaboration with leading biotechnology companies, federal government research institutions, and academic partners. Research will focus on the potential of engineering the oil profile of camelina and carinata for use as a petroleum substitute for non-fuel applications.

"Results of this research will have a positive impact on our rural economy as producers will have access to new high-value cropping options, including more diversified crop rotation opportunities," commented Wilf Keller, President and CEO of Genome Prairie.

Genome Prairie, a non-profit organization established in 2000, fosters world-class innovation and commercialization on the Prairies by managing research projects and facilitating regional participation for genomic research and knowledge transfer. It delivers public education and awareness of societal impacts including ethical, economic, environmental and legal issues related to genomics research.

For additional information, contact:

Carol Reynolds
Director, Communications and Government Relations
Genome Prairie
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Tel: (306) 241-9033
creynolds@genomeprairie.ca

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