FrankenFish – a cautionary tale

Happy Halloween!

As some of you know, genetically engineered salmon is the first genetically engineered animal designed for human consumption that has come up for FDA approval.  The GE fish is produced by a company called Aquabounty Aquadvantage and takes the genes of Chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon and an Ocean Pout and combines them to create a fish that grows at twice the rate of it’s wild brethren.  Like Dr. Frankenstein, there’s a certain level of arrogance that man exercises when he thinks that he can do nature one better.  In this instance, we’re looking at an animal that, if released in the wild, would outcompete other salmon and potentially decimate wild stock salmon as well as the food supply for wild salmon.  Assurances are being made so that that doesn’t happen but, as Timothy Egan points on in his NYT article – assurances were made in Fukoshima  too.   I don’t know what exactly a  terabecquerels of radioactive cesium 137 is but it sounds like a lot and 27 000 of them leaked into the ocean.  Shit happens.  So in this instance, why risk it?  Especially if there is no need for it.

Equally scary is that the FDA approval process considers GE salmon a “veterinary drug” and under the rules for those drugs, applications for new drugs must be kept confidential.  This means the FDA is not looking at the environmental impact of GE salmon and also blocks public comment.

Over the past year different opposition groups have surfaced including senators from the coastal states.

It’s Halloween and the end of the Mayan calendar so we can joke around about some sort of dystopian end of days scenario where our weapons are hacked into, our food supply destroyed by ourselves, and the world financial system is collapsing.  I can only wish that I could wake up on November 1st and smile when I thought about those cute little monsters because they wouldn’t be upon me until Halloween next year.

But, alas, there is no comfort in sleep.

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