An application has been submitted by researchers to grow a GM modified crop in the UK with the purpose of growing a synthetic form of cod liver oil. If successful this could be on public sale in the next 5 years.
Genetically modified crops
Scientists believe that a form of brassica normally grown for animal feed can be modified to produce the same amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids as fish oils.
Initial laboratory tests have revealed that the GM modified plant can produce EPA and DHA fatty acids which are the two key ones present in Omega-3.
Endangered fish stocks
Due to over fishing most people know that the worlds fish stocks are running low. There is no doubt that a plant based fish oil would take the pressure off this issue but with responsible fish farming a good cod liver oil will be sustainable regardless.
Important for health and nutrition
Cod liver oil and its Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for our health and nutrition:
- documented use goes back to 1789
- It has been used as a remedy for rickets (high in vitamin D)
- contributes to the normal function of the heart
- plays a role in maintaining good brain function
- thought to help relieve joint stiffness
Whether the application is successful and also if the test is successful remains unknown and the long term effects of genetic modification remain to be seen. Other practical issues such as the amount of land needed to produce a yield to match a genuine fish oil - it could take thousands of acres of land to produce a relatively small amount!
If it does become a reality would you prefer to take a synthetic oil or a genuine fish oil?