Is Tilapia a Real Fish or Genetically Engineered?
Genetically engineering food is nothing new, as it has been around since the 90s. Researchers and corporations are focused on creating genes to quicken the maturity of fish and produce bigger fish in a fish farm. The main reason fish are being genetically engineered is for financial efficiency. Corporations want to raise and sell more profitable fish by genetically engineering farmed fish to grow bigger and be transported to the markets within a shorter time period.
A common false claim is that tilapia was never caught in the wild. Tilapia was originally found in the wild in the Middle East and Africa. Due to high demand, the majority of tilapia sold in the United States is mass produced in an industrial fish farm.
There are more species of fish involved in farming practices, such as catfish, trout, striped bass, flounder, and many species of salmon. These types of fish are engineered to have profitable traits: faster growth, healthier bodies and bigger muscles. Those traits would make a perfect production, but think about how this can be created. The engineered fish’s genes come from other fish, coral, mice, bacteria, and even humans. Tilapia farming is not a production everyone will appreciate or approve, but it is happening around the world.
In 2015, the FDA approved the AquAdvantage Salmon, created by AquaBounty Technologies. They are also genetically engineering trout and tilapia. Some people were not convinced this was safe so there was a budget bill that prevented the import of GE salmon into the United States. In 2017, AquaBounty purchased a fish farm in Indiana, but it took a long time to successfully overturn the bill.
In May, AquBounty’s Indiana salmon farm became United States’s first genetically modified animal approved for safe consumption by the FDA. Now the company can transport the eggs from Canada and start the fish-farming practices. Since they just started raising the first batch of tilapia fillets, the salmon will not be in the supermarkets until late 2020. I foresee the approval for raising and selling the other species of fish in the United States in the next few years.
Is Tilapia a Good Source of Protein?
A 2008 study verified the health precautions you should take when eating farm-raised tilapia, especially if you eat fish to control swelling or inflammation. There are claims that say the swelling potential of hamburger and pork bacon is lower than the average serving of farmed tilapia, but that does not mean eating tilapia is worse. There is research that shows tilapia is still a healthier choice than hamburgers and bacon.
It is all about which has higher levels omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of potentially inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and saturated fats. Based on the samples studied, Tilapia and catfish, unlike Atlantic salmon and trout, have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids and higher ratios of omega-6 fatty acids.
Normally people will eat fish to lower cholesterol, but it only works in moderation. In order to receive health benefits like fish’s omega-3 fatty acids, you should eat at least two servings of fish per week and heart patients should eat at least one gram a day. However, if you eat tilapia or any fish more than the recommended serving, it may cause more harm than good.
In the past decade, the fishing industry created fish with fatty acid characteristics that the health care community say is inflammatory. With that said, the overall human health effects of consuming GE fish are undetermined.