A more sustainable source of omega-3
Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, is using new technology to produce omega-3 oils from ocean microbes, offering an alternative to sourcing it from wild fish and creating new economic opportunities from the ocean.
CSIRO has signed an 18-month partnership agreement with Brisbane-based company Pharmamark Innovation to develop omega-3 oils, proteins and bioactives from marine microorganisms. The partnership aims to unlock significant economic potential from a novel source of protein and omega-3 oils and will contribute to Australia’s growing “blue economy” target of $100 billion annual revenue by 2025.
The products will aim to boost the nutritional value of a range of foods and drinks, beginning with the $89 billion global baby milk formula market.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for good health, assisting with brain and eye development and cognition, particularly in early childhood. They may also help to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases, neural disorders, arthritis, asthma and skin diseases.
The oils are traditionally sourced from wild fish stocks and ocean krill, which are under pressure globally from overfishing. Minor sources of omega-3s include nuts and seeds, as well as oils from flaxseed, soybean and canola.
CSIRO’s new technology cultures and extracts omega-3 from specific strains of unique and endemic thraustochytrids, a marine microorganism.
“Our science is underpinning the development of renewable and sustainable sources of omega-3 oils and other nutrients for which there is strong global demand,” says CSIRO research scientist Kim Lee Chang.
Pharmamark Innovation CEO Guy Drummond says that this science-industry collaboration has the potential to generate a unique industry based on growing global demand for clean, green and healthy nutrients for people and animals.
“These proteins and omega-3 oils are vegan and environmentally friendly,” he says. “Their production will be safe and cost-effective, with the ability to bring the proven benefits of nutrients like this to many more people.”