Tilapia is the second most farmed fish globally (after carp) and the fourth most consumed form of seafood in the United States (after shrimp, tuna, and salmon).
Since its inception in 1988, the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) project, a selective breeding project pioneered by researchers at WorldFish, has played a critical role in increasing fish production in both commercial and small-scale systems, benefiting millions worldwide. GIFT has helped small-scale farmers have a sustainable source of income, food, and nutrition. It has also aided farmers in their adaptation to climate change.
Is Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) genetically modified?
No, Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) are not genetically modified but are the product of a selective breeding program of several Nile tilapia strains. During the GIFT project, eight strains of Nile tilapia were collected from Egypt, Ghana, Senegal, the Philippines, Israel, Taiwan, Thailand, and Kenya. Every strain has the potential to benefit the program in its unique way. The GIFT strain is now a hardier, more disease-resistant, and faster-growing fish.
Selection breeding programs mimic the natural process of evolution but in a more accelerated and well-planned fashion.
Genetically modified fish, on the other hand, are transgenic animals that have been engineered in the laboratory for a variety of purposes. Typically, they are fish that have been genetically modified to improve traits such as growth, feed quality, health, and longevity. GM fish usually exhibit characteristics not found in their species because genes from other species have been introduced into their genome.