Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Genetically Engineered Salmon Could be Coming to a Store Near You

Mar 02, 2021 08:00AM ● By Laura Hedlund

© Martingaal

In 1989, AquaBounty Technologies (AQB) received patents on transgenic salmon. According to Transgenic Research, the typical growth hormone-regulating gene in the Atlantic salmon was replaced with the growth hormone-regulating gene from Pacific Chinook salmon, with a promoter sequence from ocean pout. This gene enables the genetically modified (GM) salmon to grow year-round instead of only during spring and summer. In other words, the company got a patent for a salmon that could grow twice as fast as unaltered salmon. This salmon is the first genetically modified animal to be approved for human consumption and may be coming to a grocery store near you soon.

The economic advantages of selling faster growing salmon are clear. A commenter on Reddit’s WallStreetBets sums it up this way: “AquaBounty has a very scalable business that has a lot of competitive advantages in a growing industry. The company is focused on developing farms on land for producing the fish and plans on scaling up quickly with very little carbon footprint. AQB has a lot of patents on genetically modified salmon, which grow quicker and cost less to produce. They are also disease-free, antibiotic-free salmon.” The company promotes gene-altered fish as “A Better Way to Raise Atlantic Salmon and A Delicious Way to Feed the World.”

Beyond economics, we must consider the ecological, moral and spiritual ramifications of GM salmon. One wonders if a salmon remains a salmon if its genes are altered by humans and whether a salmon has rights over its own DNA.

Fortunately, there are some who are working to stop the genetically engineered salmon from becoming commonplace on our grocery shelves. In early 2021, top food companies, including Aramark, Compass Group and Sodexo, as well as some of the largest U.S. grocery retailers, seafood companies and restaurants have stated that they will not sell genetically engineered salmon.

The organization, Friends of the Earth, states some of the concerns. “The corporate consolidation of our seafood markets is pushing out community-based fishermen and BIPOC fishermen left and right and destroying our waters,” states Jason Jarvis, a commercial fisherman from Rhode Island and the Board President of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. “These GE salmon would be just another step in that direction, and we have the chance to stop more of this destruction right now.”

“Genetically engineered salmon pose unacceptable risks to wild salmon and broader ecosystems. People across the country have made it clear that they don’t want genetically engineered salmon, and leading food service companies are listening,” shares Dana Perls, food and technology program manager at Friends of the Earth.

If the human-altered salmon is released in the wild, the genetic contamination is forever. Consider the damage Asian carp are now causing to native fish populations in the U.S. Their rapid population increase is disrupting the ecology and food web of the large rivers of the Midwest. In areas where Asian carp are abundant, they have harmed native fish communities and interfered with commercial and recreational fishing. Experts are extremely concerned about the consequences of Asian carp invading the Great Lakes, where they would negatively affect the $7 billion-a-year fishing industry.

What about the unexpected consequences? Ken Roseboro, editor at GMOReport.com, reports extensively on GMOs. In February, printed in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is a new report conducted by an international team of scientists from London, France, Italy and the Netherlands and led by Dr. Michael Antoniou, of King’s College, London, that concludes glyphosate and RoundUp disturb gut microbiome and blood biochemistry at levels once considered safe.

One must wonder if it is at all understood what we are risking when we alter the genes of our fellow living beings.

Laura Hedlund is the host of Food Freedom Radio on AM950 Radio. To learn more about GMOs, listen to the February 6 podcast of Food Freedom Radio wherein Hedlund interviews Ken Roseboro, editor of The Organic & Non-GMO Report. Visit AM950radio.com/Events/Food-Freedom-Radio

Chef Rick Moonen on Why Buying Sustainable Seafood Matters

Chef Rick Moonen on Why Buying Sustainable Seafood Matters

“The Godfather of Seafood Sustainability” urges us to eat fish in a way that allows wild species to rebound; it can include eating healthily farmed and canned seafood. Read More » 

Filip FuxaShutterstockcom

We Need Clean Waters: Streams and Rivers Are Life Links

Efforts are underway around the country to make polluted waterways clean again and to instill local appreciation for their many helpful roles. Read More » 

 

Salmon Scam: Farmed Fish Mislabeled as Wild-Caught

A DNA sampling of 82 purchases found that 43 percent of the so-called “wild-caught” salmon was farmed. Read More » 

 

Read the full September 2021 Magazine