Ethan A. Huff
Sept 10, 2010
Consumers may soon have a new “Frankenfood” to contend with as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon decide whether or not to approve genetically-modified (GM) salmon as food. If approved, the GM salmon — known as AquAdvantage — will be the first GM animal officially authorized for human consumption in the U.S.
Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc., the company responsible for the new “Frankenfish”, has been seeking approval for it from the FDA since 1995. By programming salmon genes to continuously produce growth hormone, scientists from the company have been able to make their engineered fish grow to full size in less than 250 days, as opposed to the 400 days it takes for a natural Atlantic salmon to grow. This, they say, will improve the fish economy and reduce environmental stress.
The company claims that the fish are sterile, pose no environmental or health threats and taste just like the real thing, but not everyone is convinced. In fact, previous studies have shown just the opposite to be true.
In 1999, researchers from Purdue University found that transgenic fish are more attractive to other fish because of their abnormally large size. So more often than not, they beat out real fish in attracting breeding mates, which can cause serious problems if introduced into the wild.
The same study also found that the offspring of transgenic fish live very short lives. So over time, native fish will eventually become extinct in the presence of even a few transgenic fish. According to the university report, 60 fertile GM fish placed in a population of 60,000 native fish could destroy the entire native stock in as little as 20 years.
Despite claims that this could never occur because the fish are sterile, many experts say that the DNA in GM fish will mutate over time and cause them to be able to breed. They could then spread their DNA to other species, altering the genetic makeup of fish everywhere.
“Once you have bombarded an animal with other genes, the DNA is unstable, and there is no guarantee these fish remain sterile,” explained Lord Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association of the U.K., in a Telegraph article. “It poses far too great a risk to wild salmon.”
There is also no guarantee that the fish will remain in their isolated growing pens. Aqua Bounty insists that the GM salmon will never escape into the wild and thus pose no threat. But once approved, GM salmon will likely start popping up in ocean farm fisheries where the likelihood of escape is very high.
Fish in these farming environments already escape into the wild by the millions every year, so it is more than likely that GM fish will do the exact same thing. And if GM fish begin to escape into the wild, there is no telling the extent to which aquaculture will be permanently altered. And there is no undoing it, either.
“[GM fish] can escape and mingle with the native populations, pass on genetic traits, and their presence will just continue to grow and grow. You can’t reverse it,” explained Joseph Mendelson, legal director for the Center for Food Safety, in a statement.
According to a recent Reuters article, the FDA has failed to release any of the safety data about Aqua Bounty’s GM fish, so nobody can say for sure what the health effects are. But concerned groups say that, like other GM foods, AquAdvantage fish may cause allergies, digestive problems and other serious illness.
Current GE foods like corn and soy are already known to pose health problems. Studies have shown that they are practically poisonous and cause damage to internal organs and the immune system. In animal studies, GM foods have even led to death.
According to Dr. Michael Antoniou, a British molecular scientist, GMOs lead to the “unexpected production of toxic substances…in genetically-engineered bacteria, yeast, plants and animals with the problem remaining undetected until a major health hazard has arisen.”
GM corn, for instance, produces its own pesticide inside the corn kernel that repels pests. But this same pesticide is consumed by millions of people every time they eat the corn, leading to untold health problems that are slowly beginning to surface.
To date, there have been no studies conducted proving that any GM foods are safe for human consumption. And the studies that have been conducted show that tampering with nature at the genetic level only causes problems for people and the environment, not benefits.
Unfortunately, biotechnology’s frightening addiction to genetic engineering does not stop at crops and salmon. Last year, the FDA approved a GM goat for use in creating an anti-clotting drug called Atryn. And Canadian researchers are currently seeking FDA approval for GM swine called “Enviropig” that allegedly produces environmentally-friendly manure.
And if Aqua Bounty gets its salmon approved, it already has GM trout and tilapia lined up for approval as well.
Unless the citizenry loudly stand up and forcibly stop the genetic re-engineering of the entire planet, such madness will only continue. And if allowed to continue, genetic engineering could eventually destroy the life of the entire planet.
The FDA is set to review and discuss the issue the weekend of September 19, 2010. For three days, the agency will review data and listen to input from outsiders about the issue.
Members of the public can actually register to attend the meeting and share their thoughts in person. To sign up, please visit the following link:
To express opposition to Aqua Bounty’s AquAdvantage salmon online, please visit http://www.regulations.gov. Once there, you can submit comments for Docket No. FDA-2010-N-0385.
Or, you can also mail written correspondence to:
Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
Sources for this story include:
This article was posted: Friday, September 10, 2010 at 4:00 am