OMG – GMO !!!!!!!!!
“To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.” — Wendell Berry
The genie is out of the bottle. Last month (March 2019), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted the import restriction that prevented genetically modified salmon from entering the United States. The company can now import the eggs of genetically modified salmon from its research and development center in Canada to its grow-out facility in Indiana, and sell the salmon as food.
GMO salmon has already been sold in Canada. But the consumers who bought and ate it had no idea the salmon was genetically modified. Canada has no labeling requirement for GMOs.
The precepts around GMO salmon certainly don’t share the worldview of Wendell Berry, novelist, poet, essayist, environmentalist and Kentucky dirt farmer. The kindest thing I can say about GMO salmon is it’s a solution looking for a problem.
We don’t need GMO salmon to feed the world. Consider the following:
There is plenty of wild salmon. They simply aren’t all Chinook salmon. In 2017, the U.S. exported 202,111 metric tons of wild salmon. There are 2,200 pounds in a metric ton.
In the last 20 years, the farmed salmon industry has seen important improvements in husbandry (e.g. RSPCA Assured in Scotland) and selective breeding programs, without any need for genetic engineering. The purported value of having a salmon grow faster to reduce the amount of fish meal in the feeds has been lessened by evolving feed formulations that now include vegetable proteins, insect proteins and algae. These all reduce the reliance on forage fisheries, and can all have it done without genetic modification. In fact, the EU does not permit genetically modified soy to be used in animal feeds.
The producers of GM salmon tout the value of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). But these systems don’t need GM salmon in order to work. There are multiple RAS salmon facilities in operation and/or development all around the world, including the U.S.
But don’t be fooled. RAS production of GM salmon is a stepping stone to a much larger prize, growing GM salmon in the ocean. The real money is in privatizing the salmon genome. Paul Greenberg, the author of Four Fish, explains it like this: “Should salmon farming come to be dominated by the AquAdvantage fish, farmers could become dependent on a single company for their stock, just as soy, corn, and wheat farmers must now rely on large multinationals like Monsanto to provide seed for their fields year in and year out. AquaBounty will literally own salmon farming.”
This is the first time in history a bio-engineered animal will be available for human consumption. Simply put, GMO salmon is a science experiment masquerading as food. Experiments with artificially accelerating growth in terrestrial animals have been known to cause crippling skeletal deformities. What are the animal welfare protocols for GM salmon?
Today the Holy Trinity is Science, Technology and the Marketplace. In this instance, Science has been usurped by Corporate Science. The Technology of GM salmon is the golden calf. In the Marketplace we can give life to Wendell Berry’s words and VOTE WITH OUR FORKS!
“Those bastards in their white lab coats / who experiment with mountain goats/ should leave the Universe alone / It’s not their business, not their home.” — The Lonesome Friends of Science, John Prine