The main goal of OLeRa is to increase the content of Ω-3-fatty acids in oilseed rape and linseed via conventional breeding and biotechnology in order to prevent cardiovascular diseases by consumption of very long chain poly unsaturated fatty acids as a beneficial food component.
The modification of fatty acid chain length in rapeseed will make its oil competitive against others sources of unsaturated fatty acids like fish oil. However, the recommended consumption of many types of fish is limited due the depletion of worldwide fish stocks. The nutritional benefits of rapeseed oil are well known because of the favourable composition of its fatty acids. This oil has 60 % oleic acid and a valuable content of α-Linolensäure (ALA, ca. 9%).
The increased consumption of ALA has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease; protection against inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, and the promotion of healthy brain and eye development in infants. The widespread contamination of fish with pollutants, such as heavy metals and dioxins, is a disadvantage for this fatty acid resource. Therefore, a plant source producing Ω-3-LCPUFA from a crop that is grown in Europe and worldwide on a large acreage, is one important objective to ensure on the long term the supply with such fatty acids for humans.