7 March 1997

High value food targets for OSR

GENETIC enhancement and new processing methods could help oilseed rape growers target high-value food and industrial uses.

But care will be needed to avoid contamination and to explain genetic engineering to consumers, delegates at the Semundo, Crops BASF Oilseeds in a changing market conference heard last week.

US growers already crop 8000ha (20,000 acres) of genet-ically modified high lauric acid oilseed rape for the food additives and detergent industries. By contrast, the UK has just 20ha of commercial trials, said Dr Kerr Walker of SAC.

Such varieties will demand careful husbandry to avoid contamination, he added. Long-term contracts could help.

In the meantime workers at Mid-Kent College, part of the University of Kent, have developed a process which modifies rape or linseed oil to mimic costly castor oil. Polyurethane produced from the resulting modified oil is then suitable for manufacturing high value, high voltage insulators. &#42