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From the News Archives...

Round 'em up. Feed 'em grain

Fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. The reason is that they either eat algae and plankton that are rich in omega-3s or eat smaller fish that dine on these greens. (Ultimately, all omega-3s come from plants, whether sea-based or land-based. These healthy fats are manufactured in the "chloroplasts," the part of the plant that engages in photosynthesis.) (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has now identified strains of trout that thrive on grain, a food not found in the ocean that happens to be very low in omega-3s. The reason for the artificial diet is that grain is cheaper than fishmeal, making fish farming more profitable. Also, with enough tweaking, the ARS believes that these grain-gobbling trout will reach market size faster than ordinary trout. The ARS is currently developing genetically modified grains to feed to these "superior strains" of fish to increase efficiency and minimize the damage to the environment. (Visit the ARS website for more information.)

Sound familiar? This is exactly what has happened to our land-based livestock.

  1. The animals have been fed an artificial, grain-based diet that is low in omega-3s.
  2. They have been raised under crowded conditions that facilitate the spread of disease and pollute the environment.
  3. Animals that do well under these abnormal conditions have been selected
    for breeding stock.
  4. The grain in the animals' diet has been genetically modified to make the enterprise even more efficient.

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