Often times we are encouraged to consume more fish for their nutritious Omega-3 fats. One species of fish “Salmon” is most often touted for its high omega-3 content. Salmon is particularly prevalent in US supermarkets and is consumed by approximately 25% of Americans. It is however curious to note that 90% of salmon consumed by American’s is in fact farm-raised. These farmed raised fish in comparison to their wild relatives contain 20% less omega-3 fats, 20% lower protein content, hefty doses of antibiotics, dye; to mimic the healthy orange color of wild salmon, flame retardants, and pesticides which exist in their feed.
Recently there has been much debate about approving the farming and distribution of Genetically engineered salmon throughout the United States. The modified salmon in question is being studied by the largest salmon farming business in the US; Aqua Bounty Farms. “This experimental hatchery has been injecting growth hormone genes into fertilized salmonid eggs to produce fast growing salmon, trout and Arctic char.”. In response, Purdue University and the National Academy of Sciences has produced their own research that highlights the considerable risks of such genetic modification. Research from the mentioned institutions states that releasing one of these “transgenic” fish into the wild could damage native populations to the point of extinction.
This brings us to the next question, what are the odds one of these transgenic fish will escape to surrounding waters? A statement from the Canadian government provides a dark answer. “In the past decade nearly 400,000 farmed-raised Atlantics escaped into British Columbian waters and began competing with wild species for food and habitat”. Even more sinister is the fact that these are mild predictions, environmental experts put the figure closer to 1,000,0000 escapes.
As of now the USDA (hyperlink) which in the past has advocated clear marking of food as organic or genetically modified has curiously lent Aqua Bounty Farms $500,000 and declared their approval of GMO salmon. Last year the FDA gave the go-ahead for the GMO fish despite considerable evidence that it may very well endanger Wild Salmon. Luckily Congress shows no signs of approving the sale of such fish at this present moment.