The project, "New Technologies for Ginseng Agriculture and Product Development", will investigate ginseng's ability to influence metabolic syndrome, stress, physical endurance, cardiovascular diseases, immuno-modulation, reproductive health and neuro-protective and psychiatric disorders.
"Based on the scientific outcomes from this programme, dossiers will be prepared for each health claim," Naturex marketing manager, Antoine Dauby, told NutraIngredients.com. "In a first step, they will be submitted to Health Canada and afterwards to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the US Food and Drug Administration and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare."
The research will support Naturex's GinseniPure range, which includes American and Asian ginseng. Asian ginseng is not being studied but "specific experiments may include comparative tests between the two species," Dauby said.
Naturex will provide expertise in ginseng extraction, pesticides removal and in-house analytical capabilities including pesticides and microbiology.
Others involved in the project include the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association (which represents more than 200 ginseng growers), and Ontario-based suppliers, Jamieson Laboratories and A&L Canada Laboratories.
The Ontarian government has pledged $6.9m Canadian dollars (€4.67m) to the five-year initiative that is being led by Dr. Edmund Lui from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario.
"This is the most extensive project on ginseng ever planned; it involves six of Ontario's universities, and key participants from the industry like Naturex," Dr. Lui stated. "The ultimate objectives of this project are health claims validation and to establish an 'umbrella branding' for the Ontario ginseng."
Project researchers include agricultural, life sciences, biochemistry, social sciences, economics, and marketing specialists.
"We believe in this project because it is a milestone in the dietary supplement business," said Naturex president and CEO, Jacques Dikansky. "For the first time all of the participants will join efforts to create an innovative and scientifically-supported range of North American ginseng derivatives."
North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) account for the majority of the global 10m pound ginseng market. American ginseng accounts for 80 per cent of that figure according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
North American Ginseng is mainly grown in Ontario and northern US states like Minnesota.