U.K.’s Rothamsted Trial Set to Harvest GM Oilseed in Weeks

Aug 06, 2014 5:49 am ET

Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s Rothamsted Research is set to harvest a genetically modified oilseed in two to three weeks for use in fish farming.

The GM camelina oilseed will be the result of 15 years of research and about 2 million pounds ($3.4 million) of government support, Johnathan Napier, lead scientist on the project, said by phone from Hitchin, England, today. It’s the first U.K. field trial of a crop genetically modified for a consumer benefit, he said. This harvest will be in “kilos, not tons of seeds. Everything is experimental.”

The trial is in intended to show GM plants can replace fish oil derived from the sea. About 1 million metric tons of fish oil is taken from the sea every year, and 80 percent is used in fish farming, Napier said. “From our perspective, the easiest and most pressing need for this particular GM crop is fish farming because fish stocks are in decline and the global population is increasing.”

The camelina oilseed, a cousin of canola, will be used to produce fish oil for a salmon feeding trial at the Institute of Aquaculture on the campus of the University of Stirling, Scotland, Napier said. “We still have to do final analysis to find levels of oil in the seed. Everything looks promising.”