Does genetically engineered salmon sound appetizing? They're a pen stroke away from being on your dinner plate without you knowing it.
According to their website, Massachusetts-based biotech company, AquaBounty Technologies
, is developing advanced-hybrid salmon, trout, and tilapia designed to grow faster than their conventional siblings. They claim that their trademarked AquAdvantage® Salmon includes a gene from the Chinook salmon, which provides the fish with the potential to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon and that in all other respects, these fish are identical to other Atlantic salmon.
The results of a study conduced at Purdue University
and a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences
suggests these hybrid animals might not be so benign as their creators suggest if accidentally released into the wild. The Purdue laboratory study used small Japanese fish called medaka where males were genetically modified with an Atlantic salmon growth hormone. It was discovered that indeed these transgenic fish will grow larger and can confer an advantage in attracting mates. It was also found that genetically altered males were shown to have a shorter life span and by females basing their mate selection on size rather than fitness, medaka females choose the larger, genetically modified but genetically inferior medaka, thus inviting the hidden risk of extinction of the wild species.
The US Food & Drug Administration is currently debating the authorization of these hybrid salmon for mass production and human consumption but the required labeling of these organisms is not yet written into the proposal. For more on the effects biotechnology in our food system and how you can act on the current FDA proposal around genetically altered salmon, click here
for SignOn.org's petition.