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First Genetically Engineered ‘Frankenfish’ Now in US

They're here!

Eggs to grow the first genetically engineered salmon for human consumption in the United States arrived this week at AquaBounty Farms in Albany, Indiana.

The Atlantic salmon eggs, owned by AquAdvantage of Massachusetts, were shipped by its Canadian hatchery to Albany, halfway between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, near Muncie.

salmon

This is the first time a genetically modified food animal will be raised and sold in the United States. A company spokesperson said AquaBounty hopes to begin harvesting by late 2020, according to United Press International.

The salmon contain a spliced-in growth hormone gene that makes them grow up to five times faster, reaching market size in about 18 months instead of three years. It’s an experiment that poses a significant threat to the environment and natural fish stocks, according to a Purdue University computer model that tracked the effects of releasing just 60 “Frankenfish” into a population of 60,000. The model found there was a complete extinction of the normal fish in just 40 fish generations.

Other oddities with the “Frankenfish” studies that were pooh-poohed by the FDA include one that showed that when there was insufficient food, the “Frankenfish” went berserk, became cannibals and began attacking and killing the other fish — both GE and natural.

Yet, despite rising opposition and concerns from the public, and despite the fact that many other countries have banned them, GE foods and animals have been given the green light by the U.S. government.  

Alaska’s congressional delegation was united in its opposition against the approval of AquaBounty’s GE salmon, but the FDA approved it, anyway.

A full 90% of people who support mandatory labeling of GMOs were shut down and ignored by the U.S. Congress which, shortly thereafter, added insult to injury by passing the obviously mislabeled, “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” aka the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act.

The “Dark” Act blocks states’ rights to create their own GMO labeling laws, even though several states have filed or expressed interest in doing so.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is in charge of labeling GMOs, and they started right away with doing a little mislabeling themselves. The USDA thinks the term GMO has negative connotations — really? — and prefers “bioengineered” (BE), which only refers to a food that has had another organism’s genes spliced into it by a process called transgenesis. Other types of genetic modification do not need to be labeled at all.

The USDA rules get murkier when it comes to meat products, which are regulated under a different system.

Despite all of this, consumers continue to fight back. The amount of GE crops grown around the world has decreased in terms of acreage, and there’s been a strong growth of organic and grass fed sectors worldwide. It remains to be seen what people will do in an eye-to-eye confrontation with a “Frankenfish.”

For example, the market has started rejecting GMOs because consumers apply pressure in the form of refusing to buy them.

In the biggest agriculture market in the world — the European Union — few, if any, GMOs are found on supermarket shelves.

And, despite industry spending hundreds of millions of dollars to tout the advantages of GMOs,  about 40 percent of Americans still believe GE foods and GE ingredients are dangerous. Another 20 percent are still on the fence.

Consumers around the globe have simply said in one collective voice, “Nope, not on my plate.”