A highly controversial project, headed up by the biotechnology company AquaBounty Technologies Inc., recently faced an FDA panel for review as to whether AquaBounty’s genetically modified (GM) fish could be sold for human consumption. The FDA panel sided with consumer advocates and ruled that the data provided by AquaBounty Technologies contained insufficient evidence as to whether or not the super-sized salmon harbors the potential for harm.
AquAdvantage Salmon, the ‘Frankenfish’ developed by AquaBounty Technologies, is an advanced-hybrid fish genetically modified to reduce the growing cycle. Growth-hormone genes from king (Chinook) salmon are inserted into the fertilized eggs of Atlantic Salmon, along with AFP genes from the eel-like Ocean Pout, that allows for the growth hormone to remain active during the summer and the winter. The combination of these genes allow the GM fish to reach maturity twice as fast as natural Atlantic Salmon. (18 months versus three years)
AquaBounty claims that their fish is reproductively sterile due to another genetic alteration (triploidy), and plans to raise the fish within contained farms to avoid any possibility of interbreeding with native species.
If the sound of eating GM salmon isn’t enough, what would you say if you didn’t know you were eating it? AquaBounty claims that AquaAdvantage Salmon is completely like natural Atlantic salmon in every natural way, plus current FDA rules only call for special labels for altered food when there is a “material difference” in the final product. Frightening, absolutely frightening.
Advocates of the genetically modified salmon say it’s just a matter of time before GM fish become an accepted part of the US diet, but opponents say it could never happen. Since many major salmon farms have rejected the idea of raising these GM fish, I’m for one hoping that the critics are right on this one.
If or when the FDA approves this salmon, some say genetically modified trout and tilapia could be next, and you guessed it, AquaBounty is already working on it.
How do you feel about genetically modified food landing on your plate?