U.K. - IFFO addresses over fishing claim in announcement of development of fish oils from plants

In a letter to the editor of Britain\'s The Independent newspaper,the Director General of IFFO,Andrew Mallison, expressed concerns about overfishing being cited as a reason for Rothamsted Research to develop genetically modified plants to produce oils normally found in fish.
January 29, 2014

Response from IFFO to \'First nutrient-enriched GM crops could be grown in the UK within months\'


Dear Sir/Madam,

I read with interest the announcement that Rothamsted Research has developed genetically modified plants to produce oils normally found in fish. One of the justifications given for the research was the threat of overfishing which, although a concern, is not unavoidable. Your readers will be interested to know that approximately 40% of the world’s production of fish oil comes from sources that have been assessed against an independent standard. To be certified the fishery must demonstrate conformance with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

Increasing amounts of marine protein and oil now come from recycled trimmings and offcuts from fish processing, latest estimates indicate this forms around one third (and rising) of total raw material used. Whole fish like herring and mackerel that in the past may have been reduced to protein and oil is now increasingly sold for direct human consumption as markets have developed.

Furthermore, major animal feed companies, through their support for fish oil, are incentivising fishery improvement programs. Losing markets to vegetable alternatives would reduce the incentive for this positive change and favour competition, which itself is not free from environmental concerns.

Another developing market which should not be ignored is the culture of non-genetically modified marine algae, which is relatively new but now well established and already contributing to the supply of Omega 3 oil to direct human consumption. Over time, as efficiency improves, the oil produced may become financially viable for feed companies to access. Finally, it is important to remember that farmed fish are given Omega 3 oils partly for their own health but mainly as an important way to provide the human consumer with these essential nutrients.

Marine ingredients have an essential role to play in human health and the farming of fish and other animals to feed our growing population. The fish oil industry welcomes competition and the food security that comes from diversity of supply. However, as new sources arise, it is important to make informed decisions on their benefits and avoid overstated concerns that put at risk the momentum of improving practices within the fishing industry.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Mallison

Director General

IFFO | The Marine Ingredients Organisation | London, Lima and Beijing 


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