Genetic modification takes a step away from agricultural crops such as corn and soy and turns its focus to creating salmon for human consumption. The stress from over fishing and the long maturation growth of salmon (taking as long as three years to fully develop) proved the ideal target to allow the continuation of high production and consumption behavior.
The genetically modified salmon, called AquAdvantage, has been implemented with genetic material from an eel-like species called ocean pout that grows all year round. The splice in genetic makeup allows the salmon to reach full size in 18 months. Being genetically modified, the GM salmon is sterile, and hopes to offer a safe way to breed in fish farms without the threat to the refined genes to become integrated into the ecological gene pool.
Unfortunately, there are risks that accompany genetic manipulation. According to Lord Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, once an animal's genes is introduced to those from another animal the "DNA becomes unstable, and there is no guarantee that these fish would remain sterile," which poses a huge risk to wild salmon, and could have devastating effects.
Though genetically modified food is no stranger to human consumption, the potential negatives are still unseen. Despite the use of genetically modified agriculture, it has been recently revealed that most animal products already available for purchase in supermarkets, such as meat, eggs, or dairy, are from livestock fed with genetically modified food. Though there are feasibly risks involved with the consumption of genetically modified food, they will not be made apparent until after long term exposure and studies.
Meanwhile we continue act destructively with our resources by over-producing and over-consuming, and in the words of Lord Melchett, "There is no such thing as a free salmon lunch and we will pay the price." At the very least we can hope that existing salmon won't have to pay the price, ocean life has already taken enough from us.
Image, "Canned Salmon" by Alaskan Dude on Flickr Courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing