The Washington Post reported that the FDA is on the brink of approving the first genetically modified animal for human consumption. At it’s core, the Atlantic salmon has been genetically modified with the ‘antifreeze’ gene from the ocean pout and the ‘growth hormone’ from the Chinook salmon. The ‘antifreeze’ gene allows the salmon to grow all year around, thus reaching market size in 18 months and not 3 years. On the surface one might shrug and wonder what the problem is.
The unknown factor that is truly terrifying is what happens to the ‘natural’ salmon population when these genetically engineered fish escape into the wild and begin breeding with the already severely endangered wild salmon population, because have no doubt this will happen. We can’t cap an oil leak, or even reliably keep oil in the ships we designed to transport it. Apparently no one knows what will happen to the fish population, or if they know they aren’t saying, or denying that this is a possibility. Given what we are learning about what the hastily grown flesh of chicken and cows is doing to our bodies, land and oceans, I am less than confident in our ability hastily grow fish without similarly severe consequences.
The need to find new food sources for the growing world population is not in question. What is in question are the methods that we use to do that. It’s hard to get behind the genetically engineering of a very popular and marketable fish when there are other solutions out there like aquaponics. Sure, catfish and tilapia aren’t as sexy as the salmon, but they still taste pretty good and are just as nourishing. Carp also can be grown for food and is fact eaten as such in many countries. Why not spend more money and more time building, researching and investigating these options and let the salmon population recover on it’s own? Our quick fixes too often turn into worldwide disasters. Let’s clean up some of our messes before we start creating new ones.
- Are Genetically Modified Salmon Headed to the Supermarket? (technologyreview.com)
- US mulls approval of GM salmon (alternet.org)
- Who dares question the industrial food system over GM salmon? | Dan Kennedy (guardian.co.uk)
- Fast-growing GM salmon ‘safe to be farmed and eaten’, claim US authorities (telegraph.co.uk)
- Modified Salmon Is Safe, F.D.A. Says (nytimes.com)