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May 1, 2012

Australia - CSIRO Develops Bio-Economic Safflower For High Oleic Acid Health Benefits

GM Safflower Discovery Creates Higher Lever of Oleic Acid

A scientific breakthrough while creating a new variety of gene-modified (GM) safflower has created a new variety with higher levels of oleic acid.  Australia's CSIRO made this announcement on 26 April 2012.  When the new GM safflower is converted into oil, it contains more than 90% oleic acid, the highest level of purity of an individual fatty acid made from a plant.  CSIRO estimates that the future global demand for high purity oleic acid oil could result in 100,000 hectares in Australia being planted to 'super-high' oleic safflower.  This is comparable to the size of the cotton industry in Australia.

Flowering safflower plants
Photo: Mountain States Oilseeds
Growing safflower plants as a crop provides Australian grain growers with a new and unique opportunity.  This is a renewable, sustainable oil that could replace petroleum-based feedstocks in the manufacture of industrial products. It provides a valuable new resource for industrial chemical production.  Up until now, safflower has been grown in Australia but not in great quantities.  Its oil has been used to make paints and resins.

Safflower is very adaptable to Australia's growing conditions.  It has the capacity to deal with climate change, especially high temperatures.  It is particularly well suited to planting in northern NSW and southern Queensland.

CSIRO's new "super-high" oleic safflower is gene-modified.  It was created by CSIRO's "gene silencing technology to boost the level of desirable oleic acid in the seed by switching off its conversion to the undesirable polyunsaturates."  During product development, Crop Biofactories Initiative provided strategic research consulting between CSIRO and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

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About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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