Germans, Palestinians, Israelis Change Fish Sex With Fenugreek

Behind the headlines of war, destruction and tragedy in the Middle East, there are always small pockets of dreamers conjuring up a better world. This is especially true in Israel where international groups often come on board to broker peace-promoting initiatives between Israelis and Palestinians. The latest project involves an environmentally friendly fish-pond harvesting system for the Palestinian Authority. According to Israel21c a group of Germans, Palestinians and Israelis have been working on a method for increasing the yield of the Nile tilapia, known in Israel as St. Peter's fish. Success of the project, reports Israel21c, will lead to fish pond farming in the Palestinian economy, something which is very rare at present.The scientific project involves introducing a compound extracted from fenugreek into ponds containing hatchlings. The compound has androgenic effects, changing female fish into males. Since male tilapia grow up to 20 percent faster than females, the sex change hopes to increase production efficiency.

The process already exists, but the androgenic (sex-changing) material used in the market is considered detrimental to human health and the environment. See report (PDF).

Experimental work is expecting to show that the organic fenugreek compound (known to Arab and Jewish Yemenite people as the gooey, phlegmy-looking 'hilbe' condiment) can have the same 'sex change' effect on tilapia while making no threat to the human diet.

The project is funded by Detusche Forschunsgemeinschaft (DFG), the German Research Foundation, Israeli, Palestinian and German researchers from Hebrew University, Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem and the University of Hohenheim in Germany. ::Israel21c