Next week, the USA FDA will meet again to discuss the approval of a genetically modified “super salmon”. This is a big deal as it may be the first food from a transgenic animal to be approved by the FDA.
This isn’t a salmon that’s been selectively bred for specific characteristics, it’s a new species created by humans.
Growth hormone genes from a Chinook salmon have been spliced into the Atlantic salmon genome, resulting in a fish that grows to market size in half the time. It’s been named the AquAdvantage® Salmon .. gotta love it when the ® starts appearing next to a species name.. that’s frightening in itself!
Aqua Bounty claims the fish presents all sorts of advantages, such as reduced pressure on wild fish stock, job generation and a “low carbon footprint.” I don’t doubt these claims at all.
What is a little troubling is it’s major feature – growth. Fast growth means lots of food – what if these frankenfish escaped from aquaculture facilities into the environment? What type of threat would they pose to “real” Atlantic Salmon and other creatures in that habitat.
GeneEthics in Australia is also concerned that if this frankensalmon does get the nod, it won’t be long before it is brought to our shores either legally or illegally.
Bob Phelps from GeneEthics points out that any reassurance the AquAdvantage® Salmon would be tightly controlled to assure it doesn’t turn up where it shouldn’t is little comfort given the same assurances were given about Genetically Modified canola – which can now be found growing as weed in parts of the USA and Australia.
The future of food is a little unsettling.
Genetically modified vs. selective breeding – there is a (huge) difference.