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US - GMO Feed a Wild Card for Aquaculture

Soybeans offer some advantages as a fish farm feed, but consumer resistance to genetically modified crops could dictate which type of beans are used. Some consumers, particularly in Europe, don’t want to eat GMO-fed animals, and they are concerned that fish farms could spread genetically modified material into the natural world. Most of Europe’s fish feed is non-GMO. Norway has prohibited genetically modified fish feed, and there is a push in Europe to build a verified non-GMO feed supply chain.

June 29, 2017

Soybeans offer some advantages as a fish farm feed, but consumer resistance to genetically modified crops could dictate which type of beans are used.

“One of the greatest challenges in the aquaculture industry at large is this issue of fish feed,” said Alexandra Chase, the ocean and coastal law fellow at the National Sea Grant Law Center.

“This tradition of utilizing fish meal and fish oil as ... feed for fish began in early aquaculture operations in Europe and North America in the early 1800s as a way of utilizing surplus herring,” Chase said.

Aquaculture’s use of fish meal increased 75 percent from 1995 to 2010, and the industry is thought to be the biggest user of the product.

The next best idea, farming sardines and other small fish to produce feed, has proved to be cost-inefficient, Chase said. That is where soybeans come in. The crop is abundant and produces both meal and oil.  Soybeans are even available that contain omega-3s. The problem for fish farmers is that almost all U.S. soybeans are genetically modified organisms.

Some consumers, particularly in Europe, don’t want to eat GMO-fed animals, and they are concerned that fish farms could spread genetically modified material into the natural world.

In net-cage fish farms placed in natural water bodies, uneaten fish feed is often gobbled up by wild aquatic creatures, Chase said.

Most of Europe’s fish feed is non-GMO. Norway has prohibited genetically modified fish feed, and there is a push in Europe to build a verified non-GMO feed supply chain.

Large agribusinesses such as Cargill are working to develop this supply chain too, hoping customers will pay a premium for the product, Chase said.

One aquaculture company is making the opposite bet — that consumers will go for genetically modified salmon.

Source: Lancaster Farming // Original Article 

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