Saturday, December 22, 2012

Article: Farmed "Frankensalmon" Coming Soon to a Meal Near You

Meet the Eelpout, whose DNA has been added to Atlantic Salmon to force it to grow twice as fast as normal

Just when you thought farmed Atlantic Salmon couldn't get any worse, the FDA has now taken a huge step toward approval of a genetically-modifed Atlantic "salmon" that grows twice as fast as real Atlantic Salmon. It's called the AquaAdvantage (sounds like a penis enlargement pill), and is made by a company called Aqua Bounty.

Why is the AquaAdvantage a horrible idea? For starters... this new creature is not a salmon. It's an Atlantic Salmon crossed with a Chinook (a/k/a "King") Salmon crossed with an "Eelpout" (see image above). While the health benefits of eating wild salmon are clear, these benefits are more dubious with farmed Atlantic Salmon.

Why? Farmed atlantic salmon is fed a stew of fishmeal from all over the world, as well as gentically-modifed soy and canola oils. Studies have found higher levels of PCBs and mercury in farmed Atlantic Salmon, most likely due to the food they eat. Also, because these farmed fish are trapped in massive pens with way too many other fish, they are also plied with cocktails of antibiotics.

All of this is why I refer to Atlantic Salmon as the "sewer rat of salmon." I recommend you stay away from it. It's a damn shame what we've done to a once-awesome food source.

When I lived in Alaska, I used to watch the sockeye salmon jumping up the Russian River falls after swimming 70 miles up the Kenai River. It was breathtaking to watch these fish try over and over again to leap three, four, and five-foot waterfalls. They'd usually fail the first 10 or 20 times, but most would eventually make it. Once above the falls, they'd spawn in their ancestral waters, and then die--their decaying bodies providing essential nutrition to the rest of the food chain. That food chain in turn provided the food on which their spawn would feed after hatching in the spring.

It's only a matter of time until the genetically-modified AquaAdvantage salmon get out and breed with wild salmon populations.

I'll venture to guess that the Eelpout isn't quite as adept at waterfall jumping... and salmon muscle that's been artificially forced to grow at twice the natural rate isn't going to power those beautiful fish up to their spawning grounds. What happens next? Wild salmon runs that get polluted with AquaAdvantage Salmon DNA will collapse.

So here's the kicker: think about the economics of this scenario. If the only salmon left on the planet are AquaAdvantage... who's making all the money? Where's the incentive to keep the wild stocks safe from genetic pollution?

Just say no to "frankensalmon."


  1. That is one of the creepiest things I have read in a while-I can't think of anyone I know who would willingly eat that


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