NPR had an article about the genetically modified salmon that are now undergoing FDA review.  AquaBounty, the manufacturer of these genetically engineered fish, is seeking approval to market their product in the US.  There are two concerns regarding these fish, one touches upon their production and the other concerns their consumption.  The concern about consuming these fish centers on the possibility of them causing an allergic reaction.  NPR claimed that fish is the fifth highest source of food allergies.  The concern about their production pertains to the environmental impact of these fish, if they were ever to escape into the wild.

Do these genes make my butt look big?

Most salmon that we eat these days are farm raised fish.  The market’s demand has exceeded nature ability to meet it.  Farm raised salmon are raised in floating containment nets just off of our coasts.  The salmon are fed a steady diet of fish food, antibiotic and red dye.  Normally, the meat of farmed raised salmon is white and not the pink of wild salmon, the red dye corrects this deficient.  In the wild or in a net it takes three years for a normal salmon to reach market size.  The beauty of AquaBounty’s genetically engineered fish is that they can reach market size in only eighteen months.  Normal salmon grow in only six months of every year.  These modified fish grow all year long.

NPR claimed in their article, that fish were the fifth highest source of food allergies.  Frankly, this is news to me.  Maybe I’m just ignorant, but I have never heard of anyone with fish allergies.  Now, I have heard of people with shellfish allergies, but these allergies have nothing to do with salmon.  AquaBounty’s testing in this matter does seem to me to be a bit sketchy, but at least with this issue, I can see a clear path forward and believe that the FDA can handle this issue with more comprehensive testing.

Roe, Roe, Roe your boat gently up the stream …

My main concern with AquaBounty’s product is its environmental impact.  NPR’s article addressed this issue with a Q & A with one of AquaBounty’s representatives.  He explained that their production process had a layered protection scheme:

  • Their fish farm cordons are escape proof.
  • They only breed sterile salmon.
  • All of their fish are females.
  • Production will be off the coast of Central America.

First thing we will do after the revolution is shoot eat all the lawyers.

Wait. Stop! Stop right there. I’ve heard this story before. I read it first in 1990, when Michael Crichton first wrote his cautionary tale, Jurassic Park and again in 1993, when Steven Spielberg made this story into a blockbuster movie. The factual spokesperson for AquaBounty has offered the public the same assurances that Crichton’s fictional spokesperson, John Hammond (founder and CEO of International Genetic Technologies, or InGen), offered to his grandchildren. I am no Luddite, but the coincidence between foretelling fiction and present day fact is too close to ignore. Maybe more study is warrented?

My apologies to the producers of the movie FrankenFish, for my use abuse of their poster is all in the name of science.  And yes, I would like a lemon with my salmon and dill too, please.  What sort of Franken-sides does that come with?  I only eat Monsanto grown vegetables now.  They seem to agree best with my latest genetic tailoring.  Can I have fries with that too?