Thursday, January 29, 2015

29/01/2015: Rothamsted GM omega-3 plants suitable for farmed fish

OIL derived from genetically modified (GM) Camelina plants is suitable for feeding fish, scientists from Rothamsted have found, the Farmer's Guardian reports.

Researchers have been working on the project in the laboratory for the last 15 years and believe the GM Camelina plants will produce the omega-3 fatty acids in a more ‘sustainable way’.

The oils have been shown to benefit human health and help protect against coronary heart diseases.

Fish do not produce these oils but accumulate them through their diet in the wild or through fish oil and fishmeal in farmed fish.

Currently there is a gap between supply and demand for fish oils and new sources are required for the aquaculture industry and for direct human consumption.

The research project was a collaboration between the University of Stirling and Rothamsted Research and is published today (Thursday) in the journal Scientific Reports.

Dr Monica Betancor, who carried out the experiments at the University of Stirling, said: “With this work we had the opportunity to test the potential of this novel source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to substitute for fish oil in fish feeds.

“We used three diets, one containing the standard fish oil used routinely in the fish feed industry, one containing oil from Camelina plants that have not been genetically engineered and one that contained oil derived from plants that have been engineered to produce 20 per cent EPA in their seeds. Each diet was tested with three separate groups of Atlantic salmon for seven weeks.

“At the end of the experiment we examined fish from the different treatments and found that the oil derived from the GM plants can effectively substitute for fish oil in salmon feeds. This is highly significant because fish oil is a finite and limited resource, very expensive and the increasing demands for it by the fish farming industry will not be met in the future.”

Prof Douglas Tocher, leading the salmon feeding study at the University of Stirling, added: “The development of these novel plant oils, tailored to human requirements, represent a sustainable way to farm fish with high levels of omega-3 fish oils that maintain their high nutritional value to the human consumer while preserving wild fish stocks.”

Read the article HERE.

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