Researchers in Scotland test nutritional value of GM-fed salmon

Trial is finding out if GM-fed salmon could be more nutritious.

According to the BBC, researchers at the University of Stirling, Scotland, are feeding farmed salmon genetically modified crops to see if it can potentially increase their nutritional value.

Despite it still being one of the best sources of essential nutrients, another study reported in the BBC in 2016 showed that omega-3 oils in farmed salmon have fallen significantly in the past five years.

At the recent trial, researchers added a gene from a type of marine algae to a camelina plant to produce the omega-3 fish feed, which the team hope will be absorbed by the salmon.

Lab tests show that fish fed on this have had their levels of oil boosted. The test is to see if this can be replicated in a farm setting.

Prof Douglas Tocher, of University of Stirling said: “These are essential nutrients to our diet to maintain our health; particularly cardiovascular health, some inflammatory diseases and some cancers. Here in the UK, particularly up in Scotland, we suffer quite badly from many of the diseases for which dietary omega-3 has beneficial effects”.

Prof Tocher’s colleague, Dr Monica Betancor, of University of Stirling, said the GM research is vital for growth: “We are feeding a starving world and we need to find an alternative. The population is growing very fast and omega-3 should be available to everyone, not just to those who can afford it. There is going to be a gap between supply and demand, and that gap can be filled by GM technology.”

If successful, the feed will be used by the industry to produce “GM healthy salmon” which will be on sale in North and South America and Asia. However it will not be used in the UK nor the European Union because of public resistance to GM products.

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