The ability to manipulate genes once seemed like something out of science fiction. But now the first genetically modified animal is headed to U.S. supermarkets.

The development of this new GMO salmon began in 1989 when Atlantic salmon eggs were injected with genes from both Chinook salmon and ocean pout, an eel-like fish. This modification speeds up the growth cycle from three years to 18 months. The salmon are currently being raised at two facilities in Canada and Indiana. It is the first genetically engineered animal to be approved for sale, and the first U.S. harvest is expected in the fall of 2020.

Genetically modified salmon eggs from AquaBounty Technologies. The first U.S. harvest is expected in the fall of 2020. Photo by Freethink.
Genetically modified salmon eggs from AquaBounty Technologies. The first U.S. harvest is expected in the fall of 2020. Photo by Freethink.

The GMO salmon’s producers, AquaBounty Technologies, say bringing production closer to consumption reduces the carbon footprint of getting fish to market and solves problems plaguing the aquaculture industry, like ocean pollution and overfishing. With an increasing global population, some say biotech could be the key to sustainably increasing the amount of food the planet will need this century.

Biotech could be the key to sustainably increasing the amount of food the planet will need this century.

Opponents of GMO food have derisively called the salmon “Frankenfish,” and AquaBounty CEO Sylvia Wulf has embraced the name, saying it faces the same kind of pitchfork-wielding mob that Frankenstein’s monster suffered.

“Land-based aquaculture and biotechnology are going to be a part of the future,” Wulf said. “We blazed the trail and set up the process so others will be able to follow it.”  Read the article.

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