Frankenfish Salmon

salmonSo, what do you think of the genetically modified salmon that has been nicknamed Frankenfish? Various news agencies reported last week that the company AquaBounty is asking the FDA to approve as safe the farm raised genetically modified salmon. It apparently grows much faster and much larger (2-3 times) than your average salmon. See the picture here. I’m not quite sure what to think of this yet. Most things that I’ve read highlight two issues that need to be considered.

First, is it safe to eat? It appears that the FDA may be ready to say that it is safe to eat. I suppose only time will tell. Carl Safina, a prominent environmentalist, writer, and advocate for the health of our oceans seems to be somewhat ok with it. BTW, I have found that his Blue Ocean Institute has a very helpful seafood guide (in terms of safety and abundance). The EDF has another.

Second, is it safe for the environment? Several factors seem to come into play here. Could it escape into the wider ocean? If so, what would it do to the food supply (it eats more) and what would happen if it bred with other salmon? AquaAdvantage says that these would be raised inland with no chance of getting into the ocean. But that may simply raise other problems. As one report noted, what will happen to all the poop?

We might add a third issue that pertains to the salmon themselves. Are they little more than commodities and machines (the language of genetic engineering would seem to imply that)? Now I’m not against eating salmon. Grilled salmon is one of my favorite foods. But Salmon are also our fellow creatures. As God’s creatures, they are marvels (I’m learning). According to Steven McCormick, “Salmon are among the most beautiful of fish; stream-lined, silver and graceful. They are powerful, too, among the greatest fighters in the fishing world.” They spawn in freshwater streams, navigate thousands of miles of ocean in chase of prey, and then return to the streams where they bring forth the next generation.

So I don’t know. I need to do more research and thinking about this. Among other things is the bigger question, namely, “why do we need such genetically engineered fish that grow faster and larger in the first place?”

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