FDA holds hearing on genetically modified "Frankenfish"

AquaBounty's super salmon sparks discussion over safety, ethics of transgenic animals

By Christopher Hickey
September 21, 2010 12:21AM (UTC)
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One of AquaBounty's genetically modified salmon compared with a wild salmon of the same age

How would you feel about ordering a salmon at your local seafood market that grew twice as fast as its oceanic cousins? Is that still a salmon ... or some mutant, salmon-like fish product? This is one of the many questions being debated today and tomorrow as the FDA holds a hearing on whether genetically modified salmon are a human health risk. 

Genetically modified food is no stranger to American supermarkets. Just look at your produce aisle. These salmon, however -- produced by AquaBounty Technologies -- would be the first genetically modified animals sold for consumption. Ron Stotish, the CEO of AquaBounty, claims his fish product is safe to eat. And genetically modified salmon ranks nowhere near as high on the WTF-scale as salmon vodka. But Eleanor Starmer at SFGate.com's City Brights blog argues AquaBounty's "Frankenfish" would drive wild salmon populations further towards a point of no return. Dr. Arthur Caplan at MSNBC asks if these fish will trigger new allergies, or if their modified growth hormones will expand human waistlines as well. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal's blog speculates a vote of confidence by the FDA might also pave the way for similar transgenic animals, like the University of Guelph's low-phosphorus "Enviropig." Yikes.


ABC News provides some handy graphics on how AquaBounty produces its super fish below: 

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