Norway backs use of a genetically modified rapeseed omega-3 product in fish feed

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Salmon fish farm in norwegian fjord, Lofoten, Norway © GettyImages/DieterMeyrl
Salmon fish farm in norwegian fjord, Lofoten, Norway © GettyImages/DieterMeyrl

Related tags Norway Salmon genetically modified

Nuseed Nutritional US Inc’s Aquaterra, oil from a canola that has been genetically modified to produce long-chain, omega-3 fatty acids, has been approved by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority's (NFSA) for use in fish feed applications.

Derived from Nuseed Omega-3 Canola, a plant-based source of DHA, EPA, and ALA, Aquaterra is the first biotechnology product authorized​ for use by the NFSA in Norway under the Norwegian Food Act. 

Both the oil and the feed must be labeled as genetically modified.

Risk assessment 

The Norwegian Science Committee for Food and Environment (VKM), on behalf of the NFSA, conducted a risk assessment of the product in terms of its application in fish feed. It found that fish feed containing this oil does not pose an increased health risk for fish, nor are there any indications of increased environmental risk compared to conventional fish feed with oils from other sources. 

Nuseed Omega-3 Canola was developed in collaboration​ with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

The NFSA assessment of the Nuseed product concluded that "the requirement that the feed must be safe and not be harmful to human or animal health, or make food from animals unsuitable for human consumption, is met. Furthermore, we consider that the requirement that feed shall not have adverse effects on the environment has also been met."

The organization also held a public consultation on its assessment to, among other things, give various stakeholders the opportunity to send any supplementary information of importance. “Of the seven consultation inputs, five were positive for approval, one was negative and one stated that a new consultation had to be carried out.”

"This is a huge step forward in recognizing the value of nutritional-driven innovation from agriculture," said Greg Hunt, CEO of Australian group, Nufarm, of which Nuseed Nutritional US Inc is a subsidiary.

The approval is ground-breaking and provides further validation of Aquaterra's safety, according to Brent Zacharias, group executive, Nuseed.

Reducing pressure on marine resources 

Aquaterra can help reduce pressure on marine resources and facilitate aquaculture's growth by closing supply gaps, said the company, which reports that only 5% of today's rapeseed growing areas are needed to double the world's supply of omega-3 oil. It believes that rapeseed oil is a sustainable alternative to marine omega-3 resources.

“Omega-3 oils are essential to the health and welfare of farmed salmon, so the limited supply of fish oil constrains industry growth. One to two hectares of Nuseed Omega-3 Canola can produce as much DHA as 10,000 one kg wild fish.”

Collaborative studies conducted by industry and NOFIMA, the Norwegian applied research institute within aquaculture, demonstrated​ that salmon that are fed Aquaterra diets produce higher quality fillets with increased omega-3 content, continued the developer.

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