Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Franken Fish

Genetically engineered products seems to be all the rage these days. Lawmakers are making these decisions but do consumers really want non-natural foods. And are proper measure being taken by our lawmakers to ensure that these GE products are the best possible solutions to our needs?

 If you grew up in the same state as I did you are probably well aware of all things salmon. For those of you who did not. Salomon populations have been on the decline for years. Over fishing reduces the amount of fish allowed to return to riverbeds to spawn and thus reduces the number of salmon that return to the ocean. And while for the most part we as a consuming population realize that now, earlier generations tended to see natural resources as unlimited. Today Fish and Game regulations have some pretty hard and fast rules on the number of fish legally allowed to be caught for commercial and private use. And it doesn’t take an economist to see that a reduced number available will cause prices to rise. With prices soaring to twenty five dollars a pound for salmon in grocery stores, not everyone who wants salmon is necessarily eating salmon.

Salmon in its self is one of the best meats a person can eat. High in healthy fatty acids, low in harmful cholesterols. And if you are eating wild you are also eating one of the last remaining food sources on the planet reasonably free of chemicals fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics. Do we want to eat salmon, YES! Do we want to eat GE Salmon? According to Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch “seventy-eight percent of adults surveyed don’t want genetically engineered salmon.”  Sounds like most other people feel the same as I do. No, I don’t want GE salmon. I don’t even like farmed salmon.

Farmed salmon were the first national attempt to counter act depleted salmon populations. Eggs are manually fertilized, protected in “fish farms” and either raised to a certain age and released into the wild or kept on site to be harvested and sold later. Maybe I am just a snob, but I know when a fish has been farmed. Its tastes like sawdust. And to make matters worse, since the fish aren’t exposed to the same natural environment which causes the meat to color pink, the farmed salmon are given food with dies to force color into the tissues.

The only information I can find regarding the difference in these GE salmon are the rate of growth. They are designed to grow and mature faster than other salmon whose general life cycles ranges from 3-7 years depending on species. Also, I don’t know the long term affects tissue dies have on human biochemistry. I can’t imagine its harmless, but I doubt any of us are eating enough farmed salmon to actually be experiencing any negative effects.  I can only speculate but I imagine the FDA and other lawmakers involved in this decision are thinking the same thing. Who is actually eating enough salmon to be affected by GE tissue. Probably nobody. But my main concern isn’t necessarily with how it will change our bodies. My concern lies mainly with the bio-diversity these salmon are going to be affecting.

Eco systems are sensitive. Populations are dependent on  a very fragile balance of producers and consumers. I can only imagine what is going to happen with fish returning and clogging up spawning grounds quicker than the average salmon life cycle. And if the fish are in fact superior in every way will the ultimately wipe out the wild salmon we know today?  Not to mention the effects it will have both above and below the salmon food chain. Sunlight is used by algae to grow,  bugs eat algae, salmon eat bugs, predators eat salmon. Literally everything if my big back yard could be affected by this change.

As  a consumer  I hold a pretty high standard to the foods I eat. And as a person, I love the world I live in and thus have concern regarding willy-nilly decisions being made. I am not a scientists or a lawmaker, and don’t have all the recourses and answers to make a sound decision of the magnitude.   But it concerns me that the good people of the FDA and  lawmakers don’t more scientist in them. These are decisions that have far reaching consequences. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past, think before you act.

To read more go to, which are also my two main sources for this article.

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