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How do you feel about the impending approval of AquaAdvantage Salmon?

The U.S. government just got closer to approving the world's first genetically engineered animal - a fast growing salmon called AquaAdvantage.  

Here is the article I just read about the latest on this in the NY Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/22/business/gene-altered-fish-moves-...

I'd love to know what this community thinks about this, especially since we are so tied to the growing of our own food and our own fish,  Personally I'm deeply suspicious of claims of "safety" when it comes to our current inventory of genetically engineered food products, from both their potential impact on human health and their impact on the environment.  Given this, when I read this article and it claims that there will be no impact on the nutritional value or safety of the AquaAdvantage salmon nor any environmental impact, alarm bells are going off in my head.  

Anyone else having that reaction?  

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Scientists say that they know exactly what gene they are extracting and splicing and exactly what it will do.  However, before mapping the human genome, they estimated that we have 100,000 genes.  When they finished, they found only 30,000.  Scientists didn't know that some genes serve multiple functions.  This one fact proves that scientists don't really know what they are doing.  Who knows what latent functions lay hidden in genes that are currently "turned off"; that when spliced and turned on, will cause irreparable harm. 

Yes Sylvia, I am more than alarmed!Even though Murphy's law is considered a "joke", there is a great deal of serious, practical truth in it.  The making of assumptions such as...

"The main concern addressed was whether the genetically engineered salmon could escape and establish themselves in the wild, with detrimental environmental consequences. The larger salmon, for instance, could conceivably outcompete wild Atlantic salmon for food or mates.

The agency said the chance this would happen was “extremely remote.” It said the salmon would be raised in inland tanks with multiple barriers to escape. Even if some fish did escape, the nearby bodies of water would be too hot or salty for their survival. And reproduction would be unlikely because the fish would be sterilized, though the sterilization technique is not foolproof."

...does not take into account human factors such as greed.


For instance, what if some unscrupulous people get hold of fertile genetically engineered salmon (or eggs) and raise them in unsafe ways?

For me, my concern (and it's not a little concern) has to do with the business model. 

Understandably, there is a necessary connection between providing a product and profit.  I'm not against profit (I'd like to make some via our little farm!).  But, obviously, there are classes of business models which pervert the social balance of profitably meeting a market demand.  Monopolies immediately spring to mind.  Companies "too big to fail", too.  And the possibility of unbalanced benefit brings me to my point.

We're probably all familiar with Monsanto, and many of us probably have grave concerns about their level of control over the seed pool (eg. organic farmers v. Monsanto).  It seems to me the same type of thing, at least to a degree, applies here.  It seems to me a far healthier market exists when the means of production is dispersed throughout society.  There's then a natural check and balance that moderates the balance of power between consumer and producer when production is dispersed. 

We're used to thinking in terms of multiple companies manufacturing a product, whether that product be tooth brushes, food release spray, wheat, or whatever.  And there are ways of checking unrestrained profit motive (or power motive) when information about the product can be fully disclosed (eg regulation).  Electricity is 50 or 60 Hz, certain volts, certain quality, for example.  The generation of nuclear material (and thus the U.N. nuclear watchdog) is another.  However, it's new to us to think in terms of such a fundamental, and substantially invisible, production constituent as a gene.  The implications of control are therefore far reaching.  It seems to get close to people controlling oxygen molecules, for example. 

So, I'm quite reticent to trust such low level, fundamental, raw materials of production to a relatively small group of self-interested people (or a bureaucracy) where the element and exercise of power would pervert the necessary, healthy balance between producer and consumer.  There is a significant dearth of accountability, IMO.

I know nothing about and have no opinion of aqua advantage salmon, but I welcome GMO technology. We have been manipulating plants and animals for thousands of years, through selective breeding and hybridization to enhance characteristic we find favorable. Now our understanding of science, albeit not complete (will it ever be?), has advanced to a point that we can enhance favorable characteristics much faster and more accurately than we have in the past. With all new technology, and old for that matter, there will be mistakes, but there will also be triumphs! Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkin, grows pumpkins up to 400 pounds! Tell me that's not a wounderous freak of nature brought about by humans manipulating plants. And Monsanto's round up ready soy bean, has increased sow bean production ten fold, and decreased the cost(monetarily and environmentally), by eliminating the need for selective, expensive and long lasting herbicides. WOW, amazing!!!
With the way our population is growing, and the need to feed so many people with less and less resources we need every advantage we can get. Aquaponics is a "new" technology that many people scoff at. "you eat plants grown in fish poop, gross" to quote a recent customer of mine. There are many problems with our food system, but IMO advancing technology is not one of them. Maybe aqua advantage salmon will be the next big thing. However, I think I will wait to see how other people like it before I try it, just like I do with any new product or plant.

I believe to only chance that we have to survive as a species and avoid destroying our planet doing so, is through technology. Aquaponics is one such technology, GMOs are another. The major differences between these two is that GMOs have unintended consequences and in some cases involve dumping more chemicals in to our food supply & environment. From what I understand this fish will be sterile and farm raised so the major impact will be environmental, but that is no different from commercial fish farms. I don't imagine that I would ever want eat it, but I am sure many will. The real issue is... Will they be required to label it so we can avoid it? The answer is no, they won't.

Eating becomes more and more disturbing every day.

Right on Jonathan,

Our choice will be in jeopardy once again. THIS is why I found AP so intriguing and important. Between GMO and the constant chemtrail assault on our skies we are being boxed into a greedy Monsanto corner at an alarming rate. My "deep water well" fed and "under glass" AP system is almost a last resort. Now if I could just figure out how NOT to BREATH the air.

I thought by staying away from the retarding and deadly fluoridated city water that my family was safe but now avoiding man's sinister manipulation of nature is becoming a full time job. I have been watching the battle over fluoridation for more than 45 years and states like Washington are still signing up to pour this toxic waste that industry used to pay big bucks to get rid of, into their DRINKING water. What the hell is wrong with people? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

If you believe in fluoride buy some f'ing toothpaste. But NO, we all have to drink the coolaid. CHOICE???? REALLY??? That's the last thing "they" want us to have and based upon the California fiasco "they" have the billions of $$$$$ to do what ever the hell they want and we should just shut up and die. What was the final tally of $$ spent on that bill? 3 mil to 30 mil? Something like that.

Don't get me started MERRY FISHMAS!!!!

Oh, and Roger, I suggest you do your homework on Monsanto before you sing their praises. They are one evil corporation and have been thrown the right the hell out of numerous countries that are smarter than the USA.

Jonathan Kadish said:

 The real issue is... Will they be required to label it so we can avoid it? The answer is no, they won't.

Eating becomes more and more disturbing every day.

Hi Sylvia,

    Many bells,  sound the general alert. Other than the observations noted in other posts, this also stuck out to me:

AquaBounty produces its eggs at a facility in Prince Edward Island, Canada. The eggs are shipped to the highlands of Panama, where the fish are grown to market weight.

The federal agency said that other facilities for growing the salmon would require separate approvals. It also noted that it did not assess how the salmon would affect the environment in Panama and Canada, only in the United States.

Not hard to get to sea from anywhere on PEI?  Everything thing about the AquaBounty website and history appear to be a front for somebody(s)  If they didn't study affect on the environment in Panama and Canada, where exactly did they study with what?  Curious.

cheers,

robbie

There is a Huge difference between selective breeding and GMO.  In selective breeding, poor choices tend to weed them selves out through some natural selection as well and it is slower so we have more chance to see the effects of the modifications made through generations of the plants/animals being manipulated.

When we start doing the genetic modifications, don't get the idea that the scientists really know exactly what they are doing either, because bureaucrats, politicians and corporations have managed to decide that genetically modified organisims are essentially the same as their non-modified counterparts and therefore scientific study into the impacts of them need not be done (because quite frankly that costs money and time and might show something wrong with out new product and we wouldn't be able to make boatloads of money on it first.)

Roundup ready crops mean that instead of following older methods of controlling weeds they can now plant your food and animal feed and spray it with roundup since the plants have been engineered to survive it so that means we and our animals get to eat more chemical residues.  Now in the first several years this might have saved the farms some money but now the weeds are gaining more resistance to the herbicides so the farms are having to use more of it and spraying more of it means the soils are dead and require more chemical support to feed the plants and protect them from pests so in the long run I don't think it is really helping the farmers feed the world, just making more money for the company selling the seeds and chemicals to grow them.

BT corn and Soy have a whole other range of dangers and now a toxin that used to only affect certain specific insects because of an infection by a specific bacteria is now affecting the digestion of many animals and people because the plants have been engineered to create the toxin itself (the toxin used to only get created when the bacteria would get ingested by the specific types of insects and they would get the stomach infection from the bacteria and the bacteria would give off the toxin only in the stomach of the specific types of insects which would cause them to stop feeding and die.)  But now that the plants themselves contain genes that cause them to create the toxin themselves animals and people who eat the plants are experiencing more digestive problems.

Remember that genetic engineering isn't done by building the DNA from scratch or anything like that, most genetic  engineering is done by either shooting something at the DNA and then seeing if it made the desirable change and if there were any side effects that kill the organism immediately or they are done by using modified bacteria and/or viruses to cause the hopefully desired mutations and not too many undesired ones.

It is not that I'm really against genetic engineering in theory.  The problem is that the companies due to financial reasons are going to release the products long before any bad long term side effects can even be discovered let alone studied in any detail.  So these long term studies of the negative side effects are being done on the environment and the general population with no disclosure or permission and in general no scientific or medical supervision because the companies would prefer those studies not actually happen because it might be discovered that some of these new products are really quite dangerous.



Roger Baldwin said:

I know nothing about and have no opinion of aqua advantage salmon, but I welcome GMO technology. We have been manipulating plants and animals for thousands of years, through selective breeding and hybridization to enhance characteristic we find favorable. Now our understanding of science, albeit not complete (will it ever be?), has advanced to a point that we can enhance favorable characteristics much faster and more accurately than we have in the past. With all new technology, and old for that matter, there will be mistakes, but there will also be triumphs! Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkin, grows pumpkins up to 400 pounds! Tell me that's not a wounderous freak of nature brought about by humans manipulating plants. And Monsanto's round up ready soy bean, has increased sow bean production ten fold, and decreased the cost(monetarily and environmentally), by eliminating the need for selective, expensive and long lasting herbicides. WOW, amazing!!!
With the way our population is growing, and the need to feed so many people with less and less resources we need every advantage we can get. Aquaponics is a "new" technology that many people scoff at. "you eat plants grown in fish poop, gross" to quote a recent customer of mine. There are many problems with our food system, but IMO advancing technology is not one of them. Maybe aqua advantage salmon will be the next big thing. However, I think I will wait to see how other people like it before I try it, just like I do with any new product or plant.

What she said

TCLynx said:

There is a Huge difference between selective breeding and GMO.  In selective breeding, poor choices tend to weed them selves out through some natural selection as well and it is slower so we have more chance to see the effects of the modifications made through generations of the plants/animals being manipulated.

When we start doing the genetic modifications, don't get the idea that the scientists really know exactly what they are doing either, because bureaucrats, politicians and corporations have managed to decide that genetically modified organisims are essentially the same as their non-modified counterparts and therefore scientific study into the impacts of them need not be done (because quite frankly that costs money and time and might show something wrong with out new product and we wouldn't be able to make boatloads of money on it first.)

Roundup ready crops mean that instead of following older methods of controlling weeds they can now plant your food and animal feed and spray it with roundup since the plants have been engineered to survive it so that means we and our animals get to eat more chemical residues.  Now in the first several years this might have saved the farms some money but now the weeds are gaining more resistance to the herbicides so the farms are having to use more of it and spraying more of it means the soils are dead and require more chemical support to feed the plants and protect them from pests so in the long run I don't think it is really helping the farmers feed the world, just making more money for the company selling the seeds and chemicals to grow them.

BT corn and Soy have a whole other range of dangers and now a toxin that used to only affect certain specific insects because of an infection by a specific bacteria is now affecting the digestion of many animals and people because the plants have been engineered to create the toxin itself (the toxin used to only get created when the bacteria would get ingested by the specific types of insects and they would get the stomach infection from the bacteria and the bacteria would give off the toxin only in the stomach of the specific types of insects which would cause them to stop feeding and die.)  But now that the plants themselves contain genes that cause them to create the toxin themselves animals and people who eat the plants are experiencing more digestive problems.

Remember that genetic engineering isn't done by building the DNA from scratch or anything like that, most genetic  engineering is done by either shooting something at the DNA and then seeing if it made the desirable change and if there were any side effects that kill the organism immediately or they are done by using modified bacteria and/or viruses to cause the hopefully desired mutations and not too many undesired ones.

It is not that I'm really against genetic engineering in theory.  The problem is that the companies due to financial reasons are going to release the products long before any bad long term side effects can even be discovered let alone studied in any detail.  So these long term studies of the negative side effects are being done on the environment and the general population with no disclosure or permission and in general no scientific or medical supervision because the companies would prefer those studies not actually happen because it might be discovered that some of these new products are really quite dangerous.



Roger Baldwin said:

I know nothing about and have no opinion of aqua advantage salmon, but I welcome GMO technology. We have been manipulating plants and animals for thousands of years, through selective breeding and hybridization to enhance characteristic we find favorable. Now our understanding of science, albeit not complete (will it ever be?), has advanced to a point that we can enhance favorable characteristics much faster and more accurately than we have in the past. With all new technology, and old for that matter, there will be mistakes, but there will also be triumphs! Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkin, grows pumpkins up to 400 pounds! Tell me that's not a wounderous freak of nature brought about by humans manipulating plants. And Monsanto's round up ready soy bean, has increased sow bean production ten fold, and decreased the cost(monetarily and environmentally), by eliminating the need for selective, expensive and long lasting herbicides. WOW, amazing!!!
With the way our population is growing, and the need to feed so many people with less and less resources we need every advantage we can get. Aquaponics is a "new" technology that many people scoff at. "you eat plants grown in fish poop, gross" to quote a recent customer of mine. There are many problems with our food system, but IMO advancing technology is not one of them. Maybe aqua advantage salmon will be the next big thing. However, I think I will wait to see how other people like it before I try it, just like I do with any new product or plant.

Well, it is rather disconcerting that the GMO trend has moved on to the animal species. However, news like this doesn't bother me too much. I mean, the average commercially farmed fish, along with any other commercially farmed animal is already a bad choice for food. Yeah, the fact that it is GMO probably makes it worse, but the point is, we want to choose GOOD food, not less bad food. I feel that as the local food movement continues to grow people will continue to be educated on how to make the right choice, and there will be more and more farmers to provide those healthy choices. If you focus on changing this country from the inside-out, starting with the hearts of the people, the laws of the nation will change by default. Given the government will allow that change to happen of course...

Yea, pretty much any animals being fed commercial feed are probably eating GMO.  It is really hard to find commercial animal feed that is not full of corn and soy and even harder to find it that is organic (read that as non GMO since that is about the only way to know if something is GMO or not since labeling laws don't help.)

However, if you can get local grass fed/pastured meat, that will go a long way to getting healthier animals to eat.  My birds now have about 2 acres to free range and they eat far less of the commercial feed when they get to go forage for bugs and eat weeds and grass.

I must say, I'm not likely to ever eat the GMO fish, I'm raising my one fish to eat and people in my neighborhood can come buy fish at my place.

You should have included our current crop of genetically altered politicians.

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