News In Brief

Transgenic salmon would be first genetically modified animal for consumption

Melissa Kaplan Aug 2, 2010

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing what a Massachusetts company is calling an “advanced hybrid” fish, a cross between Atlantic and Pacific Chinook salmon. The genetically modified fish would grow quicker than salmon currently on the market and would essentially be the first transgenic animal distributed as food.

The $86 billion Aquaculture industry hopes the modified salmon will help supply a growing world population with seafood quicker and also allow the fish to be raised in contained farming operations based inland rather than along coastal waters. The modified fish would all be sterile females that couldn’t breed with wild fish if any escaped.

Those more critical of the transgenic salmon worry about health and environmental hazards that could come from consuming and producing genetically modified food. A computer model produced by a Purdue University shows a controlled environment of genetically modified fish within a wild-fish ecosystem would cause extinction of the wild fish in 40 generations.

Chinook are the largest species in the salmon family. The Atlantic-Chinook hybrid would grow to market size in 16 to 18 months rather than three years.

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