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The Salmon That Grew & Grew

Sometimes science is wrong, and one example of this are Frankenfish: In order to grow bigger salmon that can feed more people, a genetically-modified Atlantic salmon has been created that grows twice as fast as wild ones. Its genes have been artificially augmented with DNA taken from two other fish in order to give it more growth hormone.

Researcher Craig Altier says, "The fisheries of the world are being rapidly depleted and so advances in aquaculture will be needed to meet the growing demand for protein. Genetically engineered animals might help to feed the world, but they must first meet the most stringent requirements for human and environmental safety.

"Is the introduced growth hormone gene safe for the fish itself? The studies designed to determine this were flawed, and so we don't know yet whether this is true. The burden of proof here is on the producer of this fish, Aquabounty, to perform further research to establish safety for the fish.

"Is the fish safe for human consumption? Exhaustive analysis by the FDA showed no difference from conventional salmon. The growth hormone itself presents no specific risk, as we consume growth hormone in all meats we eat (but SHOULD we?) The FDA also found no increase in allergens, which is important, as fish is already a food that causes allergic reactions in many people.

"We advised the FDA on the possible environmental impacts of this fish. Containment of the fish is essential, as the release of this fast-growing animal could have devastating effects on native fish populations. We need to treat these fish as we would a potentially dangerous medicine or pharmaceutical, and apply all of the same security measures to its production and transport."

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Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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