Genetically Modified, Unwarranted Fear

Biotechnology has developed a salmon that can be raised in half the normal time. Since salmon is a healthy food and the world’s food supply must be doubled in the next 25 years to feed Earth’s expanding population, this “super salmon” should be viewed as a true success story. However, some environmental activist groups have increased their campaign to spread fear about recent biotechnology advancements.

The genetic discovery that led to fast-growing salmon occurred about twenty years ago. A researcher froze a tank containing live flounder. The fish survived after the ice was thawed. Additional research led to the discovery of an “anti-freeze” protein that flounder produce which allows them to live in the icy waters off the Canadian coast.

Researchers then isolated the gene that produces the anti-freeze protein. As gene-splicing techniques were developed, researchers performed studies to introduce the anti-freeze gene into Atlantic salmon. They hoped salmon with the new gene would flourish in the fish farms of colder Canadian waters.

While these studies were not successful, the researchers found that this gene allows salmon to grow faster. The gene improved the method the fish’s own growth hormone worked.

While certain groups have questioned the safety of eating bioengineered salmon and dubbed it “Frankenfish,” the genetically modified fish does not pose any threat to human health. For example, mankind has been modifying the genetics of food crops for years with simple farming techniques, such as crossbreeding. Breeding one species of plant with another has yielded improvements in crop production and increases in disease resistance. Armed with biotechnology, today’s researchers are able to single out the gene with the needed trait and specifically improve crops, or in this case, salmon.

Therefore, whether you eat fillets of super salmon or flounder, you have a wholesome, nutritious and safe meal. There would, essentially, be no difference between the super salmon fillet and the good old salmon you are used to buying from your neighborhood supermarket. The only real difference would be the desperately needed increased availability of salmon.

We're sorry, but comments are closed.

No Responses to “Genetically Modified, Unwarranted Fear”

By submitting a comment here you grant a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate comments will be removed at admin's discretion.