This means Burcon's Winnipeg processing plant is now ready to produce canola protein samples, which will be used by ADM to conduct toxicology feeding trials and to perform other health and nutrition related testing.
"ADM is testing the canola to prove this substance is not harmful to human health, rather than focussing on the health benefits," said Sven Olsson, Investor Relations Europe for Burcon. "The results of their tests will be submitted to the FDA in the autumn of 2004 for necessary regulatory requirements." Burcon and ADM hope this will result in GRAS status for the product from the FDA.
Olsson explained that parallel research is being carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany to look at the health benefits of canola - the second-largest oilseed crop in the world after soybeans. These results should be available by the autmun of 2004.
This latest development keeps Burcon on track to get the proteins on the market by the summer of 2006.
"This is a significant milestone in the development of Puratein and Supertein," said Johann Tergesen, Burcon's president & COO. " We are pleased with what we have accomplished to date and are excited about the future."
The two proteins have differing attributes and can be used for a wide range of applications in the prepared foods, nutritional supplements, diet and health care markets. Burcon describe puratein as "a high molecular weight protein", which should be thought of as a "substitute for egg yolk", while supertein is a "low molecular weight protein" and therefore "more comparable to an egg white."
The Fraunhofer Institute indicated in an independent survey that Burcon's proteins had many attributes in which they excelled when compared to milk and egg proteins. This included emulsification capacity, which matched egg yolk and exceeded milk protein. Researchers also found that supertein had better whipping properties than egg-white.
A survey by Independent Equity Research (IER) found that the protein market accounted for approximately $3.7bn of sales in the US, with animal protein accounting for about 51 percent of the market and plant protein the remaining 49 percent in 2000.
"However, the plant protein segment is the fastest growing sector, reflecting the impact of increasing consumer concerns over animal related diseases and other health concerns and their impact on animal proteins," IER said in a report. This is no doubt a significant reason accounting for the 288 percent increase in sales of soyfood products since 1995.