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5 reasons Not to eat GMO Salmon

February 4, 2011

Earlier this week, Alaskan senators Mark Begich (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R) reintroduced legislation to ban genetically modified salmon—a cockail species of sorts created by the biotechnology company Aquabounty that has earned the name “Frankenfish” for containing genes from three different fish. If approved, the species would be the first genetically modified organism (GMO) available for human consumption.

The senators’ disapproval echoed that of California State Assemblyman Jared Huffman, who introduced a bill last month that would mandate labels on genetically modified fish.

Genetically modified salmon has also been decried by government scientists and interest groups, and publically denounced in a protest letter by 11 Pacific Northwestern senators.

With all the resistence out there, what kind of nut would approve it? There’s reason to believe that the FDA will.

Here’s five reasons not to swallow it.

GMO salmon could unpredictably breed.

Genetically modified salmon, if approved, will be “grown” in tanks in a facility in Ohio, where AquaBounty claims the beasts will be unable to escape. If even a single fish escapes the farming areas, interbreeding with non-GMO salmon can become a science-fiction reality. Right now, science can’t predict what sort of offspring would result from interbreeding GMO and non-GMO salmon.

Wild Atlantic salmon are endangered.

Currently, all species of wild Atlantic salmon are listed as endangered. Any threat to their survival—including unintentional genetic intermingling with GMO salmon—is a potential nail in the coffin.

Fish biologist Jeff Hutchings explains: “It’s fairly difficult to make precise predictions about what would happen if interbreeding took place between GMO and wild salmon. But almost certainly the consequences would not be positive for the wild salmon, particularly given their poor conservation status.”

Freshwater sources could be damaged.

Even farmed salmon require saltwater to thrive. When farming facilities release saltwater to clean out the tanks, Ohio lakes and streams could suffer from the sudden saline increase. Freshwater flora and fauna could be hit hard by a salty overdose.

Frankenfish will hurt wild salmon fishermen.

If GMO salmon is approved, wild salmon fishermen who currently fish natural species will be forced to compete with fish that grow faster (18 months instead of three years) and require less feed than their natural brethren—much like today’s organic chicken farmers who spend three months raising chickens while factory farms artificially speed up the growth cycle to only 49 days.

A monopoly will be created.

If GMO salmon reach the market, AquaBounty will have a patent on their “product.” That means they will own the rights to create and sell fish to farmers. Because farmed fish do not reproduce on their own, the patent will lock farmers who want to stay in the industry into being lifelong customers of AquaBounty.

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