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GM Oysters at Root of French Shellfish Plague

FRANCE - Genetically "improved" oysters could be behind the worst plague of the shellfish to hit France in 40 years, it has been reported.

Last month farmers around France announced that they had lost between 40 and 100 per cent of their oysters aged one to two years old, reports the Telegraph.

According to oysters farmers cited by weekly magazine Marianne, the culprit is the triploid oyster, which is modified to give it three pairs of chromosomes instead of two, as is the case with common oysters.

"It's the triploid's fault", one was quoted as saying. "But one mustn't say that because the scientific and financial stakes are considerable".

According to Marianne, a disease linked to the triploid could have spread to non-modified oysters in offshore parks, although it gave no further details.

A growing number of oyster farmers favour the triploid, introduced into France in 1999, as it is grows much faster than other types and is sterile.

This means the oyster never becomes milky and mushy, as is the case with normal oysters in their reproductive period.