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June 23, 2004
For immediate release

Flax Field Trials Underway

Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Forestry

Something new has been added to the Prince Edward Island landscape this summer - fields of blue and white flowers dotted around the Island. The flowers are those of flax, one of the hottest cereal foods now on the market for human consumption as a health additive and a plant with a variety of healthful uses.

Prince Edward Island farmers are experimenting with the new crop, one that could become a new source of cash for farmers, and a new industry for PEI. Eleven PEI farmers have planted just over 400 acres of flax in an extensive field trial to determine whether Island growing conditions can produce a crop of sufficient yield and quality. A smaller crop was grown last year as an experiment. Those results proved so successful that the effort was expanded this year.

The flax is being grown under contract with an Ontario-based company – Natunola Health. After harvesting, drying and cleaning, the Prince Edward Island flax seed will be evaluated at the Natunola de-hulling plant in Winchester, Ontario.

Dr. Nam Fong Han, Natunola President and CEO, has developed a world patented process for separating the flax kernel from the hull. Initial laboratory work was carried out with the federal Department of Agriculture and the Agri-Food Research Centre in Ottawa.

The Natunola process uses both the fibre and lignans in the flax hull and the Omega 3 oils in the kernel to produce nutraceuticals, personal care products, quality feed additives for fish, chicken and pigs, and a food additive rich in Omega 3 oils for human consumption.

Omega 3 oils have strong anti-oxidant properties and have become increasingly popular as a nutritional supplement. Fed to fish, chickens or pigs, it produces animals high in cancer fighting Omega 3 oils.

“We are partnering with the Department of Agriculture in looking at production and extraction of flax products in PEI,” said Development and Technology Minister Mike Currie. “With the NRC - Institute for Nutrisciences and Health being located on the UPEI campus and the expansion of the Food Technology Centre to include extraction technologies, we are using our research capacity and natural abilities as a production base not only for food products but also the emerging human and animal health industry. If everything works out during the growing season and the business case is there, we hope to see more contract growing and processing of flax and flax products for human health in PEI.”

Natunola Health is an operating division of NutriBios Corporation and an Ontario based company, with expanding market demand for its products in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

“This new field trial is a continuation of our efforts to diversify the agricultural industry in Prince Edward Island,” said Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry Minister Kevin MacAdam. “The identification and development of new opportunities will help improve returns to producers and provide the basis for new value-added products.”

Natunola gave high marks for quality and yield to the flax grown on Prince Edward Island last year. If this year’s crop does well, the company intends to contract additional acres for next year.

The flax trials are a joint project between the company, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry and Technology PEI.

Technology PEI is the lead agency of the Province in the support of innovation, science and technology development in Prince Edward Island.

Media Contact: Ann Thurlow
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