Frankenfish could be on your dinner plate by the end of the year.
On December 21, at the very end of the last business day before Christmas week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly released its environmental assessment that found “no significant impact” from the controversial AquaBounty AquaAdvantage transgenic salmon. What is the rationale behind genetically engineered salmon? Why have scientists spliced genes from an eel-like creature called the ocean pout into the genome of the Atlantic salmon? These genes crank out growth hormone year-round, resulting in a fish that grows faster, cutting the time to reach market weight almost in half. This could mean cost savings for fish farmers, leading to higher profits for the salmon farming industry and (they promise) lower prices for consumers.
But there are massively disturbing ethical, environmental, and health concerns that make the introduction of Frankenfish highly controversial.
Corporations given the power to create life
Humans have been using natural selection for years to favor certain genetic expressions in animals and plants. But natural selection on the farm is entirely different than taking genes from two or more completely different creatures, and splicing them together in a laboratory.
Some people are concerned that the power to create new life now sits in the hands of corporate interests. Others are disturbed by the notion of eating genetically engineered animals when there isn’t even so much as a label to give them choice in the matter.
With countless more genetically engineered animal creations waiting for approval, the release of genetically engineered salmon could lead to a plethora of new life forms coming onto the market. John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution and many other best-sellers about food, health and the environment, calls this “Pandora’s Pantry.”