NutrOcean: marine microalgae plant

Rimouski, September 27th, 2010 // NutrOcean has inaugurated its new marine microalgae production plant on the 27th of September 2010, in the region of Pointe-au-Père in the town of Rimouski (Quebec).

Marine microalgae are at the start of the food chain in marine ecosystems and are recognized as a high-quality food source for shellfish larvae and for the production of zooplankton in marine finfish farming, particularly when fresh. They are also increasing in demand as an ingredient source for products such as nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, pharmaceuticals, horticultural fertilizers and for the production of biofuel.

Dr. Sabin Boily, President and Chief Executive Officer of Valeo Management L.P has declared that: “fish accumulate omega-3 lipids by feeding on smaller organisms in the food chain including microalgae that are the only marine organisms that actually synthesize omega-3-rich lipids. The inauguration of the production plant allows the company to position itself strategically in a fast growing market”.

According to the mayor of Rimouski, Mr. Éric Forest, “Rimouski, which is a major maritime hub, is pleased to see a factory specializing in marine culture being established on its territory, thus generating jobs in an area of training, particularly important in our educational institutions. We already had several marine-related industries and we are very excited that a company specialized in the production of essential ingredients in the aquaculture and food processing world is coming to Rimouski and serving the world market.”

Fish do not produce EPA or DHA (the omega-3 fatty acids). They accumulate it through their prey who themselves feed on the lower trophic levels. Thus, EPA and DHA are distributed throughout the food chain: firstly they are synthesized by micro-algae, and then eaten by zooplankton, followed by fish. We know that fish accumulate contaminants as well, unlike micro-algae that lie at the bottom of the food chain. Since the micro-algae from NutrOcean are produced in a closed environment at high concentrations, they are free of contaminants and harvested at commercial quantities. In addition, production of micro-algae causes no harm to the environment; instead, they consume CO2 to reproduce.

Dr. Bruce Holub, Emeritus professor at University of Guelph, in Ontario, has said : “The micro-algae market is a rapidly growing source for the provision of the important marine-based omega-3 essential fatty acids for enhancing human health. I am very pleased to participate to the opening of this new production facility in Canada with its global market coverage.”

Dr. Michael Crawford, from the Imperial College for Science, Technology and Medicine and from 1989 to 1997, director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, at Metropolitan University in London was the first one to identify scientifically the essentiality of the omega-3 to the brain.  “In 1972 I made the discovery and published evidence that the brain required omega 3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for growth, function and its evolution. The brain evolved in the sea 500 million years ago using DHA for its signalling structures and despite evolution going from dynoflagellates to dinosaurs and humans it is still the major functional and only omega 3 structural component responsible for vision, all sensory and motor functions and cognition. Its availability from land systems is poor. Hence we still rely on the marine food web. Tragically, the wild catching of fish reached a plateau over a decade ago. Unless we solve the need to feed the growing population with brain food, the outlook for our children and their children is a further escalation of mental ill health and brain disorders.

Hence there is real need to develop new resources and I welcome the initiative to develop algal sources here by NutrOcean to help meet this challenge for the future health and intelligence of mankind. The evidence now is robust and overwhelming and suddenly the industry has come round and is making billions of $ out of the story.”

Mr. Serge Bujold, President and general manager of NutrOcean, said that: “NutrOcean owns innovative technologies and production facilities that allow an ecological production of quality microalgae with great potential in both markets of aquaculture and ingredient. The establishment of its new plant in Rimouski illustrates its desire to bring to market an innovation originally made at UQAR-ISMER.” University of Quebec at Rimouski /  Institute of Marine Science Rimouski

“The creation of NutrOcean is a fine example of practical impact of university research in regional economic development», said Michel Ringuet, rector of UQAR. NutrOcean was created by Valeo Management, a limited partner of UQAR and its technology is based on work carried out by researchers at UQARISMER.

“UQAR is proud to have thus created a technology that has led to the development of new processes that are now being transferred to the society”, he added.

The director of ISMER, Mr. Serge Demers, said : “The creation of NutrOcean is, for ISMER, the concrete harvest of practical research that emanates from its researchers. This is the beautiful culmination of efforts to fill a critical role of academic researchers, namely the transfer of knowledge into goods and services to society. I can only rejoice at this success and hope that NutrOcean serves as an example for other innovative projects.”

Excessive wealth is damaging the nation's health

Iona Heath, general practitioner, London.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Health equality cannot be achieved without explicit policies to reverse the growing disparities in individual wealth

In his 1749 poem The Vanity of Human Wishes, Samuel Johnson sounded a warning: “Wealth heap’d on wealth, not Truth nor Safety buys, The dangers gather as the Treasures rise.” This echoes across the centuries in the story of Fred Goodwin, erstwhile chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, who so perfectly exemplifies contemporary corporate greed. Wealth and poverty are always linked, and the poor are always exposed to the comparison, continually aware of the possibilities and opportunities that are available to the rich but that appear forever inaccessible to themselves.

Our government talks a lot about doing something about poverty in general and child poverty in particular, and the health service finds itself repeatedly charged with the responsibility to tackle health inequalities. However, the assumption seems always to be that these worthy objectives can be achieved without any explicit policies concerning the growing disparities in individual wealth. The slogan “excessive wealth is damaging the nation’s health”… further reading… http://www.bmj.com:8080/content/338/bmj.b1293.extract

Cite this as: BMJ 2009; 338:b1293.             With thanks to the BMJ.


If burger joints offered cholesterol-lowering statins, customers would offset the unhealthy effects of a cheeseburger and milkshake, according to researchers at Imperial College London.

The pills could be placed beside the salt, pepper and tomato ketchup to encourage people to pop one after their meal.

The suggestion is made in a paper by Dr Darrel Francis, a cardiologist at Imperial's National Heart and Lung Institute, and colleagues published in the American Journal of Cardiology

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, denounced the proposal. "This paper just amazes me," he said. "Let's get real; we should be encouraging healthy lifestyles, not pill popping. This is an unwelcome addition to the 'pill for every ill' attitude that's already much too common. The danger of this research is that some people will become even more complacent about eating fatty food and high calorie food, and might even increase their intake of them."

While statins were generally safe they could increase the risk of muscle weakness and, in rare cases, of kidney failure, cataracts and liver problems, Field added.


Congratulations to our Chair, Simon House, for his chapter in the recently published Academic Press / imprint of Elsevier publication - HANDBOOK of EPIGENETICS: (SECTION VII, Evolutionary Epigenetics: CHAPTER 26, Epigenetics in Adaptive Evolution and Development: The interplay between evolving species and epigenetic mechanisms. Simon H. House*, Cambridge, UK)

The subject of epigenetics tends to be a conversation stopper, but simply means ‘changes in gene expression’ – due to switches on the genes. It used to be called ‘environmentally induced modification’, and not considered important, being reversible change – rather than a mutation – it is now the focus of scientific investigation. Though reversible, these changes are inheritable both in cell replication and down multiple generations of the species. Epigenetics is now a red-hot topic in many branches of medicine.

It has long been known that faced with a change in ‘conditions of existence’ (as Charles Darwin termed the environment) that organisms needed to change to cope with the changed surroundings.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck had described this ‘need’ well (le besoin) in his book ‘Philosophie Zoologique’ (1809), but was stumped with explaining how such changed characteristics somehow became marked on the ‘germ-plasm’ thus ensuring the change was passed on to the next and further generations, were the environmental change to remain stable. Darwin had run into the same problem and tried explaining it via his theory of pangenesis – which was inspired guesswork considering he published his thoughts 140 years ago.

Now, the relatively new science of epigenetics is explaining this 200-year-old conundrum.

We are privileged as a Society to be allowed by Elsevier to reproduce Simon House’s chapter, which will be serialised in these pages. This chapter, one of 37 in Handbook of Epigenetics is pretty meaty stuff, so be prepared to hang on to your hats.

Handbook of Epigenetics: The New Molecular and Medical Genetics (edited by Trygve O. Tollefsbol of the Department of Biology, the Center for Aging, the Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Nutrition Obesity Research Center and the Comprehensive Diabetes Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL 35294, USA) has 37 chapters on virtually every branch of medicine and medical science including genetics, psychology, psychiatry, environmental biology and evolutionary Epigenetics.

It is the Handbook for which generations of scientists, doctors of medicine, philosophers, naturalists and students of evolution have been waiting – for two centuries – since the time of Lamarck’s first publication at the beginning of the 19th century. (A more complete review will follow in our Journal, Nutrition and Health).

Only now are we beginning to understand how our environment, physical, chemical and emotional is effecting change in our bodies and minds, and in those of our children, grandchildren and beyond.

Congratulations are also due to our President Professor Michael Crawford on being appointed Visiting Lecturer at Imperial College.