PHILIPPINES: GMO coconut oil developed to boost exports
Scientists in the Philippines are researching the effects of genetic engineering on coconuts in a bid to increase the lauric acid content and expand on the crop's potential for oil production.Lauric, or fatty, acid is the active ingredient in the vegetable oil used to manufacture cosmetics, detergent and processed food. This explains the importance of the lauric oil content for buyers, and "that's why we have to increase the coconut oil's lauric content from the current 50% to 55%-60%," said Dr Mendoza, head of the Biotechnology Program of the Institute of Plant Breeding.The Philippine Department of Science and Technology has funded its project with a six-year grant worth nearly US$22,000, and Mendoza said that her team would be applying for a three-year extension for its studies and additional funding.Such scientific tactics in the search for increased production are not new. Last year, Canadian producers of canola oil set aside 28.2m hectares of land for the production of a genetically modified version of the crop.The Philippines is the world's largest producer of coconut oil, but the international market is currently dominated by palm and soya bean oil. With the development of a GMO coconut, growers in the Philippines are hoping to capture a larger share of the world vegetable oils market.
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