Food and forestry researchers get €26.3m for 51 projects

Projects review novel health benefits of food ingredients such as peptides

More than €26 million has been awarded to 51 food and forestry research projects by the Department of Agriculture, Minister Simon Coveney announced this morning.

Several of the projects are investigating novel health benefits of foods. A joint Teagasc/UCC/NUIG project will investigate the potential of omega 3, derived from marine algae, to prevent depression and boost mental health.

A University of Limerick/University of Ulster project is looking at the use of peptides found in seaweed and fish byproducts in controlling diabetes. It is also investigating the possibility that these peptides could help appetite control, by giving the sensation of “feeling full”.

Meanwhile, researchers in UCD and Teagasc are measuring the beneficial effects of grass-fed beef in areas such as glucose control and heart health.


Other projects are looking at food safety, climate change, controlling disease in crops and improving soil quality.

Mr Coveney said some €10 million of the grant fund had gone to Teagasc while UCD researchers had secured €6.6 million. Other beneficiaries include UCC, NUIG, Trinity College and DIT.

Mr Coveney said the awards would provide training for more than 80 post-graduate students and contract employment for almost 90 scientists.

He said the awards highlighted the importance of the agri-food sector, which was “Ireland’s first industry” - just as the Department of Agriculture was the first Government department to be established.

Mr Coveney also noted that the agri-food industry accounted for more than 25,000 of the 58,000 jobs created in the private sector last 12 months, and many of those jobs were going to young people. “So there is something significant happening in this sector.”

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times