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expert reaction to latest findings in GM Camelina study

As part of a large field study, publishing in Scientific Reports, researchers investigate how they can optimise omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid accumulation in transgenic GM Camelina.


Dr Sarah Schmidt, Research Scientist and Marie Curie Fellow, The Sainsbury Laboratory, said:

“GM plants are often debated in the context of food security. Do we need GM crops to feed a growing population or not? This study shows that GM plants can also simply satisfy a specialized market need. In this case, the demand of the aquaculture sector to replace fish oil in aquafeed diets with an alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids.

“The study shows that a previously genetically modified Camelina plant could be altered further to produce ratios of omega-3/omega-6 fatty acids that are tailored for the end-use of plant-derived fatty acids in aquaculture.”


Prof. Les Firbank, Senior Research Fellow, University of Leeds, said:

“Concerns are rising that food security is not just about providing enough calories for people, it’s also about providing the right nutrients. The health benefits of Omega-3 are well known, but it’s becoming a real problem that they are currently synthesised by marine microbes, even though we actually eat them from fish. The news that we may be able to produce these compounds at a commercial scale from crops is therefore really exciting, and demonstrates the potential for modern biology to address the challenges of providing us with healthy nutrition.”


Dr Penny Hundleby, Senior Scientist, John Innes Centre, said:

“This is an excellent finding and clearly demonstrates the science is there to better utilise our crops to deliver products in a more sustainable and greener way.  To consumers, an Omega-3 food supplement sourced from plants instead of adding to the pressures already faced by overfishing, should sit well with environmentally conscious individuals – however, whether the gains will allow them to see past a GM label is another thing.”


* ‘Tailoring seed oil composition in the real world: optimising omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid accumulation in transgenic Camelina sativa’ by Usher et al. published in Scientific Reports on Wednesday 26th July.


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


Declared interests

Dr Sarah Schmidt: I have no conflicts of interest

Prof. Les Firbank: No conflict of interest

None others received

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