Chances are you’ve probably heard about AquaBounty’s “AquAdvantage” transgenic salmon on the news or read about it on the Internet or in the paper, or even seen it on shelf stores. But like many people, you’re probably wondering, what’s the big fuss about AquaBounty salmon?
To answer this question, we first need to know what AquaBounty salmon is. AquaBounty salmon is quite simply and literally Chinook salmon with two extra genes implanted in its DNA. One gene is from the Ocean Pout and the other is from Pacific Salmon. These two genes make it so unlike typical store-sold salmon, AquaBounty’s salmon grows all year long. Natural salmon does not grow during the winter. This effectively reduces the time required to raise, package, and market the fish. An adult salmon is no bigger than its natural counterpart; it just grows faster.
These genes and the way that the salmon will be raised affect the salmon in many ways. First, the majority of the salmon are sterile, meaning that they cannot reproduce. However, there have been tests that state that 5 percent of AquaBounty salmon may not be sterile, as stated in an article on comunicas.org. This worries environmentalists, who state that if any of the salmon were to be released into the wild they would mix with the natural salmon and possibly out-compete them for food. To prevent this from happening, AquaBounty is going to be selling (or sells) only sterile females to the general public. There have even been tests shown that, due to the feeding methods AquaBounty employs, this transgenic (meaning that it possesses genes from multiple animals) salmon would not be able to compete with natural salmon.
Of course, many people are wondering “Is it safe to eat?” The answer is yes. According to a briefing by the Food and Drug Administration, “Food from AquAdvantage Salmon… is the same as food from other Atlantic Salmon.” The only difference between this salmon and the natural salmon is that it has two different genes. Eating these genes will not and cannot hurt you in anyway. They are just little bits of genetic code in the animal’s DNA, and DNA does not effect you through anything you eat. Don’t believe me? Genetic fruits and vegetables have been on the market for quite some time now and haven’t hurt anyone. The FDA also specifically stated in their briefing that, “No direct or indirect food consumption hazards were identified in AquAdvantage salmon”. Eating genetic code cannot hurt you.
Yet there will still be skeptics. I assure you, this is just a fish. Genetic engineering is a golden gateway to a new age in which food can give added benefits to people and can be grown or produced easily for the majority of the world’s population. Instead of being shunned as many people are doing now, it should be embraced.
United States FDA
“AquAdvantage Salmon” Briefing Packet