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Research supports new uses for Manitoba crops

Flax might be a help to people with high blood pressure

The federal and provincial governments have awarded $341,000 to Manitoba researchers developing foods as drug alternatives and better genetics from crops produced in the province.

“These projects will explore the attributes of a wide range of crops from buckwheat to flaxseed and focus on the health benefits for consumers in a global market,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a release.

The projects support the goals of the Grain Innovation Hub, a framework announced by the ministers in May 2014 to make strategic investments in grain production, research and processing in Manitoba, the release said.

“Innovation drives Manitoba’s grains sector from seed to farm to customer, creating jobs in the province and supporting our economy,” said Manitoba Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Ron Kostyshyn. “Through the Grain Innovation Hub, strategic investments will cement Manitoba’s place at the forefront of the grains industry in Canada and around the world.”

Projects will receive funding from the Growing Innovation – Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative (GI-ARDI) and include:

  • Validating food substitutes for cholesterol-lowering drugs (TM Therapeutics, $175,000);
  • Measuring whether eating flaxseed can help people with high blood pressure (St. Boniface Research Foundation and the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine, $136,000); and
  • Breeding buckwheat varieties with new characteristics and health benefits (ManCan Genetics Ltd., $30,000).

“Manitoba-grown and -processed oats, pulses and other healthy ingredients can help people living with high cholesterol,” said Lee Anne Murphy, director of TM Therapeutics, a joint project of StepOne Foods Canada and the Manitoba Agri-Health Research Network Inc. “There is currently no practical, easy-to-use and tasty way for consumers to add these products into their daily lives. With support from GI-ARDI, we are evaluating a food-based alternative therapy for almost 20 per cent of the population who can’t tolerate statin drugs, which is currently the most widely prescribed treatment for people with high cholesterol.”

Project proponents and other stakeholders will also invest more than $865,700 in these three research projects.

The federal and provincial governments are investing $176 million in Manitoba under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry, helping producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets.

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