Puttin' On The Ritz: FrankenSalmon Will Be On Dinner Tables By 2017


"Puttin' on the Ritz!" (Young Frankenstein, 1974.)

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration just gave the go ahead for genetically modified salmon to go into production. This is a first: before now, no Frankenfoods were animals. Been in the works since 1989; all the paperwork (called the "New Animal drug Application," I kid you not) completed in 2010.  Here we go.


Genetically modified food crops have been consumed for several years. Have you ever wondered if there was any genetically engineered food animal? There was none until yesterday. But now, the FDA has approved AquAdvantage Salmon, a genetically modified fish for the first time, and according to reports, it is expected to hit grocery store shelves in two years.
[snip]
Major retailers like Target, Meijer, Aldi, Giant Eagle, Whole Foods and U.S. conventional grocery chains Kroger and Safeway have reportedly agreed not to sell genetically engineered salmon.
But this is what Ronald Stotish, CEO of AquaBounty had to say, "AquAdvantage Salmon is a game-changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats. Using land-based aquaculture systems, this rich source of protein and other nutrients can be farmed close to major consumer markets in a more sustainable manner."

Read more

No one asked me.  Did anyone ask you?

There remains some uncertainty over whether the effect on your health will be equally as undetected as the change on your dinner table is expected to be.

Especially in the longer term.

"Some uncertainty," by which, as I understand it, is indicated, the average of the two positions: If one hand is in ice-cold water, and the other, in boiling, on average your hands are a comfortable room temperature...

AquAdvantage Salmon (I hate that missing letter 'A,' don't you?) reach around 6.6 pounds (3 kg.) in 1 1/2 years instead of the usual 3 years for farmed salmon. If they grow for 3 years they can weigh as much as 13 pounds, two times the normal weight for that age. To trigger this growth, two genetic modifications were made: one to trigger the necessary hormone and one to prevent colder winter waters from inhibiting growth. 

More meat, sooner; less time, less overhead.  Easy money.

Not specifically too good.  (Photo: Renovation headquarters)
If you ever 'fixed' electronics by splicing cords, compare for a moment (bear with me) a whole, uncut cord to one that has been cut, scraped, and twisted with another. No matter how you do it, the uncut cord is vastly superior: in reliability (structurally the wires are guaranteed to not get crossed); in performance (the conductivity is way more reliable and the output greater), and in longevity (electrical tape glue degrades over time, those neat little nuts fall off, and duct tape was so stupid in the first place that the comparison is irrelevant).

The analogy holds for 'inserted' genes. The sequence tends to break at that point. The gene fragments lie about, get picked up by bored or curious gut bacteria. Not good.

The official story: there are 'no material differences' between GM and conventional salmon. The flesh contains the expected amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. "Food from AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe to eat as food from other Atlantic salmon. There is a reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption."

And since all the fish are female and sterile, there is absolutely, positively no danger of them escaping and breeding with the wild population: none at all. Of course. If they did, it would be either too cold... or too hot.  Period.  

What could possibly go wrong?

Here are the three sentences the Daily Mail has thought adequate to answer that:



"The FDA is due to make a final decision this month on whether to approve the GM salmon.
But a coalition of 31 U.S. consumer, animal welfare, environmental and fisheries groups is opposing approval.
They claim tests used to show the safety of the GM salmon were based on very small samples and point out that some of the fish had higher levels of growth hormone in their bloodstream, which is claimed to create a cancer risk.
While the GM fish are supposed to be sterile, critics said up to 5 per cent might be able to conceive and breed if they got into the wild.
Pete Riley, director of campaign group GM Freeze, said: 'We are extremely concerned about the potential for these fish to escape.'"
read more (Textised™ for the Gentle Reader's protection from DailyMail cooties)

May I point out that:
  • the fish were bred to withstand cold -- it doesn't slow their growth
  • the way to breed super-strains of any species is to subject individuals to extremes such as near lethal heat or cold
  • if even one gets out it would be bad
  • the hormone in question is the same one in rGBH that causes cancer
  • the science behind the testing by which impacts on human health were assessed was a great deal shoddier than this implies
  • everyone knows sooner or later a fertile fish, maybe even a male, will escape, and survive; since it is such an aggressive eater, and it will out-compete native species wherever it ends up, it will most certainly fuck the environment up even worse than it already will have been fucked whenever this totally unexpected accident finally happens

Or, to quote that most excellent teller of facts and namer of names, Counterpunch,


Ninety-five to 99 percent of AAS are sterile, said AquaBounty at FDA hearings in 2010, so they are unlikely to breed and threaten wild salmon stocks if they escape. (If they did breed, though, it could Jurassic Park-like since AAS eat five times more food than wild salmon and have less fear of predators, according to background materials.)
[snip]
AquaBounty told an FDA advisory committee it plans to grow the eggs at a facility on Prince Edward Island in Canada, where escapees could not survive.... Because water temperatures in the winter months are very low and the water has a high salinity, “it is highly unlikely that early life stages of any Atlantic salmon at the facility would be able to survive if they were able to escape.”
...AquaBounty...plans to grow out and slaughter in the country of Panama because that environment is also hostile to survival. “...the water temperature is in the range of 26 to 28 degrees C, at or near the upper incipient lethal level for Atlantic salmon,” says the FDA report. “As a result, it is extremely unlikely that AquAdvantage Salmon would ever be able to survive and migrate to the Pacific Ocean.”

from The Return of FrankenSalmon by Martha Rosenberg, Counterpunch, 1/4/13

You really ought to read more

As to that last, well, I went to the website for GM Freeze, and will let you see for yourself:



See GM Freeze original PDF here

I could end there, but maybe you care, or maybe telling you what little I know may somehow help stop this stupidity. I know at least one blogger who probably would disagree that anything is to be gained by this; perhaps you could join this debate. Is there a point? Does knowing what evil humans have and will have wrought afford us any measure of prevention, protection?

Super Duper...?

Please leave a comment, especially if your answer is yes.

Be seeing you.

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