Twelve companies founded GOED in October, and the trade association announced its membership has now grown to include 40 companies. The industry group's mandate is to help maintain market growth for EPA and DHA products by educating consumers, healthcare professionals and governmental bodies about the benefits of these fatty acids. All finished products containing EPA, DHA or ALA can claim to be sources of omega-3, yet EPA and DHA have been found to be significantly more bioavailable than ALA - thereby forming one of the driving purposes behind GOED. However, the group's scope does not end here. "In nine months we have grown very rapidly and have already been able to provide significant value to our members by working on issues like European health claims and import regulations, US intake references, and international market research," said Adam Ismail, executive director of GOED. The industry association initially concretized what was an emerging movement to raise public awareness of the longer chain omega-3s and differentiate them from ALA. The group is setting out to advocate regulatory approvals internationally for the fatty acids. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are derived from marine sources such as oily fish, and DHA can also be derived from microalgae. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is derived from plant sources such as flaxseed. . The shorter long-chain omega-3 fatty acid ALA is a precursor to DHA, and has to be converted by the body before it can be used. While EPA and DHA are 20- and 22-chain chain carbons respectively, ALA is an 18-carbon. Some of the cognitive, heart health and antioxidant benefits are lost in the conversion process elongating ALA's carbon chain. GOED has diverse plans in the pipeline for generating specialized awareness on this difference and other issues. "There are a number of valuable initiatives we will be launching for our members in the coming months," said GOED board of directors chairman Robert Orr. "They include the founding of an omega-3 education center with a leading American university, initial meetings with key opinion leaders on development of RDI's, an expansion of the GOED monograph into a product quality assurance program, a website with exclusive content and research for members, whitepapers on important omega-3 topics, and an editorial program to spread the word about omega-3s," he added. EPA and DHA did get a regulatory pat on the back from the US Food & Drug Administration in 2004, with the approval of an EPA/DHA health claim for coronary heart disease. The same has not happened in other countries though. For instance, in Europe health claims legislation is being finalised and it may be some time before products bearing approved claims are on retail shelves. In the meantime, EPA/DHA manufacturers are keen to promote the awareness that omega-3 on labels does not distinguish between EPA, DHA or ALA sources. GOED is drawing from a diverse membership to get its message out. The group includes multinationals and small privately owned companies, as well as ingredient and consumer product companies. The trade association was formed out of the dissolution of the Council for Responsible Nutrition's omega-3 working group. The founding member companies were: Cargill, Ceres Consulting, Croda, Denomega, EPAX, Loders, Lonza/Nutranova, Marine Nutraceuticals, Martek Biosciences, Napro Pharma AS, Ocean Nutrition Canada and Omega Pure. The current burgeoning roster has grown to include players such as: DSM Nutritional Products, DuPont, Lipid Nutrition, Monsanto, NBTY, Nutrition 21, The Solae Company, and Unilever. GOED, whose office is situated in Salt Lake City, Utah, expects membership to reach 70 companies by the end of the year.