Omega-3s in GMO Plants

This is an interesting article from New Scientist about some companies that are working on producing EPA, DHA, and STA in plants:

US FDA says omega-3 oils from GM soya are safe to eat


“BASF has inserted five genes from algae that naturally make EPA and DHA into the canola genome. Its product is still in development.

“Monsanto has taken a different approach. It inserted two genes into the soybean genome, one from a plant related to primrose and one from a fungus. The modified soybean produces stearidonic acid, or SDA. Like ALA, SDA is converted into EPA in the body, but in much higher proportions….”

6 Responses to “Omega-3s in GMO Plants”

  1. Alex Says:

    Very interesting – but when I hear the words GM, BASF & Monsanto – I get ill. And the FDA – what a bunch of sell-outs. They will say anything the Big Pharma tells them to.

  2. angela Says:

    I don’t find it comforting the the FDA declares any GM food safe, at all. There are already plant sources of Omega-3’s that are perfectly natural. I don’t see that engineering something is needed at all. It only goes to show that Monsanto and these other companies will try to sell their product to people in any way possible, under the guise that it’s healthy for us. I just hope the public is smart enough to see through it.
    What’s your take on it, Jack?

  3. Jack Norris RD Says:


    I think this depends on:

    – How much fishing is being done solely to supply the demand for EPA and DHA.
    – Whether there is enough seaweed to replace all of that EPA and DHA.
    – Whether harvesting that seaweed would have more harmful effects than getting it from GMO-based crops.

    But I do know the oceans’ ecosystems are being destroyed by fishing, and many thousands of sea mammals are being killed along with the fishing and destruction. So, it seems to me that it would probably do more good than harm to get EPA and DHA from GMO crops. There would be an issue regarding the potential harm from such genes getting into the environment and what they might do to the humans who eat them (my concerns would be for allergies and autoimmune diseases), but they also might be perfectly safe.

    In summary, I really don’t know.

  4. Alex Says:

    Hi Jack – perfectly valid explanation and reasoning regarding GM. But again – do we really need it? I say no. I do neither need nor want it. And as you say – what do we know about the long-term effects on our bodies and the environment?

    To me – as to many fellow vegans – the decision to exclude animal products from the diet was mainly ethical. Out of consideration for the planet and the animals. GM is not the future. Organic farming is.

  5. Rita Says:

    I hope veganism is the future and anything that gets us there has to have at least a qualified welcome – GM foods may turn out to be great – why not?

  6. Alex Says:

    @Rita: Because GM is not the answer we are looking for. Because we do not need GM.

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