What is in this article?:
- While genetically-engineered (GE) crops are nothing new to U.S. dining tables, GE animals are a different matter. In the case of GE salmon, at least, it appears that is about to change.
On a chromosomal safeguard in case GE salmon somehow reach the wild…
“We use a process that’s quite common in the industry. It’s used in a variety of fish and even mollusks and crustaceans.
“You can produce triploids, which carry an extra set of chromosomes. The triploids are infertile and unable to breed.
“We actually do two things. First, we produce all female fish – something possible with fish, amphibians and shellfish but not in other species. Second, all those females are all triploids.
“The reason we did that is because we realized there would be a lot of controversy associated with this fish. That’s even though many environmental experts have said our fish – even if was deliberately released and even if it weren’t infertile -- represents less of a risk to wild populations than existing practices. Despite that, we are aware that people fear things that are new and environmental activists and opponents of the technology would seize on this as an issue to try to discredit us.
“We offered the FDA – and they basically accepted our proposal – that we’d produce all female, sterile fish. And because our fish alter the economics of production, they can be raised in land-based systems. That means we’ve virtually eliminated any possibility of interactions with wild populations.
“It’s sort of a belt-and-suspender approach to anticipate and address all of the concerns.”
On reactions of critics…
“Surprisingly, that hasn’t had much of an impact on the anti-technology, environmental activist community. They’ve continued to level the same charges and make up stories about us that simply aren’t true.
“We’re hoping the average citizen will appreciate that the company has gone to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate this isn’t just a product that helps production -- and can create jobs and industry here in the United States -- but is also safe for the environment."
Are these fish raised in the hatchery/long concrete trenches people are used to seeing?
“Yes, it’s very similar. Ours is a bit fancier because it’s also a research operation. We also operate at a much higher level of bio-security than a typical hatchery.”