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Nov 27, 2018

Explaining the benefits of genetically engineered foods

During Biotech Week, on a warm, sunny afternoon in late September, Ag-West Bio held a reception to celebrate foods developed through genetic engineering. I was asked to attend and write an article on the event and the food. My views on GM foods are moderate; I grow my own organic vegetables and tend to buy organic when the price is right. I avoid farmed salmon but enjoy stocked trout from Lake Diefenbaker. And I’m definitely not a vegetarian. Although the setting was relaxed and sumptuous, with platters of AquAdvantage® salmon, Innate® potato chips, Arctic® Apples, vegetables and dips – and a jazz duo playing in the background – the message felt urgent. If we are going to tackle the challenge of feeding the world in a changing climate, the application of emerging technologies, like gene editing, will be essential.  Read the article. Editor's note:  see this excerpt - "I move on to sample the genetically engineered salmon. The Boffins chefs have outdone themselves, with offerings of beet-cured salmon; salmon rillette on salmon skin crisps topped with tobiko and dill; and smoked salmon. The fish is firm, flakey and delicious - and grows twice as fast as its non-GMO counterpart. Using genetic material from Chinook salmon and the ocean pout, AquAdvantage® salmon reach market size of four to five kg in 18 months and use 20-25 per cent less feed to grow to market size than other farmed salmon. Because they are grown in biosecure tanks in land-based facilities, they will never mix with wild fish populations. They are also all female, so breeding is controlled. AquAdvantage salmon has the potential to reduce the demand on wild fish and increase availability of Omega3-rich salmon to consumers."

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