Frankenfish: Nothing Is Sacred

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December 4, 2015

Why do we need this genetically modified salmon? Better yet, who is it that needs this frankenfish in the first place? They can breed salmon, and raise them to harvest size in fish farms, thereby relieving the drain on the natural wild population. Oh, it doesn’t reach a good market size fast enough. As if fast food hasn’t already left its mark, but now we have fast fish – growing many times more rapidly than it should. Someone needs to feed the world… blah, blah, blah. More like someone wants to have a licenseable fish for the world to grow.

It’s a monster in the making.

Naturally, the FDA has ruled it’s safe to eat, and GMO salmon requires no labeling. Most of what I’d read on this new GE food until today has said that all they’ve done is insert a growth hormone gene from one salmon to another. Sounds pretty benign, until I saw this the FDA’s website:

[alert type=white ]FDA has approved a new animal drug application concerning AquAdvantage Salmon[/alert]

So, if all they’ve done is splice in a gene from one salmon type to another, then how is this classified as a drug? And if it’s harmless, then why has AquAdvantage been trying without success to get their genetically-engineered fish approved for 20 years?! Suddenly after two decades of failing to get their creation legalized all is good, an amalgamation that is heritable at that.  Which means that should the altered species male find it’s way into the waterways, it will pollute the gene pool. While AquAdvantage insists such a thing is possible, all their fish are females, and sterile. Scientists, however, disagree. Some have expressed well-founded concerns.

First of all, farming them in captivity on land, instead of walled off ocean pens sounds more secure, but…

[alert type=white ]A fish egg production facility on Prince Edward Island is located next to an estuary, while another facility in Panama, where the fish are allowed to mature, is close to a river, according to the FDA documents.” — The Salt[/alert]

The possibility of some of them getting into the wild habitat is impossible to totally control. Stuff happens. What if it rained for 40 days? Like the containment tanks would never overflow, and once in the river, the escapees would simply blend in with the rest of the fish out there. Additionally, it is a caged animal. Cows, pigs, chickens, goats … all farmed creatures escape from time to time, and fish are no different.

Secondly, there is the slim chance of a male being identified as female. And also no sterilization process has an effective rate higher than 99%. As we all know, one oops-moment can lead to disaster. At the moment breeding and growing operations are confined, but what happens when it goes commercial, and there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of frankenfish growers around the world? Now the odds lean more favorably to things getting out of control.

Oh, they don’t live long, and have poor immune systems, so if one did manage to get out, it would never live in the wild. Is that so? As one scientist, , puts it – it’s an invasive species nightmare just looking for a place to happen. There is no way for any scientist to predict without a doubt what would take place if any escape. The real world is way too complicated. There is a risk here, which due to complexities beyond the capabilities of a lab to duplicate, the height of risk cannot be calculated.

Poor immune systems? In plain English that means they will be sickly, or easily diseased. So, while everyone is trying to create more disease-resistant farmed creatures, these guys are going in the opposite direction. What does this translate to in terms of food quality, and food safety? Sounds like bringing even a fast-growing herd to harvest will require a hefty dose of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals.

It won’t hit stores for a couple of years, but when it does, you’ll want to know where it is still safe to buy salmon. Currently, Costco has announced they refuse to sell it. Smart move. Too bad many big grocers won’t be so astute.

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Callie

Callie

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
Only strangers knock on the door at Callie's house. People who know her don't bother if the sun is shining - they know to look in the garden.
Callie

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