September 11, 2019 at 11:39 pm #195813hmbairdParticipant
AquAdvantage salmon were developed 20 years ago as a fast-growing version of Salmo domesticus. These salmon were created with Atlantic salmon as a genetic template, with the added king salmon growth-hormone gene, as well as an ocean pout promoter gene. Salmo domesticus was then crossed with this modified salmon, which led to what we now think of, at least sometimes, as “frankenfish.” This new salmon grows all year round, which is ideal for meat output into the fish market. Unlike Salmo domesticus, the FDA requires AquAdvantage salmon to be raised in land-based tank cultivation to minimize the potential for any cross-breeding or contamination of wild populations. Considering the anadromous lifecycles of these modified fish, it makes it even more unlikely that escaped fish would be able to adapt to the local ecosystems in any stage of life. AquAdvantage has created their stocks to be 95-99% female and sterile, which, when combined with a land-based populations without ocean access, makes it extremely unlikely that transgenic fish will get into natural populations.
Genetic engineering is fascinating, because most of the people I know seem to have a very negative perspective on it. Even the nickname “frankenfish” points to the negative connotations around genetic modification. However, humans have been genetically modifying their food products for as long as we have been farming through selective breeding and other options. It’s unfortunate that genetic modification isn’t better understood by our modern society. I wouldn’t say that genetic modification is the next obvious step in the history of humanity’s cultivation of food, yet I do see the obvious benefits in being able to provide more food that is more nutritious to the regional and global markets. However, this idea that genetic modification is the obvious step also completely ignores the moral dilemma behind modifying animals (or potentially plants, for that matter) to grow at incredible rates. If one is to worry about the wellbeing of the creature they eventually intend to eat, then it makes sense that we might not want to dive directly in to creating alarmingly fast-growing creatures without first exploring what it does to the creature’s life. Fish are already foreign species to humans (I would love if someone could explain a fish’s emotions to me), and perhaps it is inhumane to force a species to grow much faster than their evolutionary tree has been making them grow.
I have no solid opinion on whether or not genetic modification is the future of all food. Perhaps I would prefer if we limit it to the genetic modification of plants, though I could probably be convinced otherwise. Food for thought.September 12, 2019 at 9:55 pm #195836kmwongParticipant
I agree that with the moral dilemma involved along with the idea of the unknown consequences it may be best to stick with plants. I believe the altering of genetics is fascinating as well and would love to understand it more.
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