RESEARCHERS AT Bristol University have genetically modified a type of cress to make it rich in two polyunsaturated fats, reports The Guardian.

The cress has been modified to contain omega-3 and omega-6 which are believed to reduce heart disease, improve brain function and mood.

Omega-3 is commonly found in oily fish and omega-6 is found in certain grains and poultry.

Baoxiu Qi and Colin Lazerus, the scientists responsible for developing the alternative source of fats, hope the plants will one day be a viable alternative source.

“The next step is to add the same set of genes to leafy salad vegetables such as spinach and lettuce,” said Mr Lazarus.

The paper reports the development could relieve pressure on depleted fish stocks.

It also notes that there may be further benefits, with the oils produced in modified plants being more pure than many fish oil supplements.

But Mr Lazurus admitted: “The problem is that those who are most likely to benefit from eating these plants are the most unlikely to go near them because they are genetically modified.”

Liz O‘Neil of the Vegetarian Society said: “We‘re not crying out for it. If you make sure you eat the right foods, you can already get all the omega-3 and omega-6 oils you need. 

“There are issues with GM and it‘s certainly not popular with our members.” 

The Vegan Society was also sceptical. “At the end of the day, this is not about human good, it‘s about making a profit,” a spokesman said.