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GM camelina has been modified to produce EPA and DHA.
GM camelina has been modified to produce EPA and DHA.

A study led by scientists at Southampton University showed seed oil from genetically modified plants was as effective as fish oil in providing humans with healthy omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.

GM camelina – a type of rapeseed plant - has been developed by Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire with the intention of providing an alternative to forage fish used in salmon feed.

In the study, 31 healthy volunteers consumed 450 mg per day of EPA and DHA provided either as either camelina seed oil (CSO) or fish oil (FO) for eight weeks, followed by six weeks without supplement and then eight weeks consuming the other test oil.

The study was randomised, meaning the participants didn’t know which supplement they were taking.

No difference in effect

In a paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the researchers wrote that consuming the test oils significantly increased EPA and DHA concentrations in plasma TAG, phosphatidylcholine and cholesteryl esters.

There were no significant differences between test oils in the increments of EPA and DHA, and there was no significant difference between test oils in the increase in the proportion of erythrocyte EPA and DHA.

“Together, these findings show that consuming CSO is as effective as FO for increasing EPA and DHA concentrations in humans,” wrote the scientists.

GM produce cannot currently be used for feed in the UK or the EU, and must be grown under licence, but crops of GM canola, a similar oilseed plant, are being grown in the US.