BOSTON, July 11 (UPI) — A Massachusetts company says it’s close to getting federal approval to put genetically modified salmon on the market.
AquaBounty says it intends to market an “advanced hybrid” of a fast-growing Atlantic salmon that has been genetically altered with help from a Pacific Chinook salmon, McClatchy Newspapers reported Sunday.
AquaBounty’s fish don’t grow bigger than normal Atlantic salmon, but they grow faster.
The company achieves results by adding a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon along with an on-switch gene from the ocean pout, a distant relative of the salmon, to a normal Atlantic salmon’s roughly 40,000 genes, McClatchy says.
Despite the potential for market-ready product, the fear is the genetically altered salmon will escape the aquaculture pens to compete with endangered native stocks.
Some estimates say between 400,000 and 1 million Atlantic salmon have already done so in British Columbia, McClatchy says.
Although disputed by the biotechnology industry, a Purdue University study alleges if 60 transgenic fish bred in a population of 60,000 wild fish, the wild fish would be extinct in 40 generations.
“We’ve seen assurances in the past from industry and regulators that there won’t be catastrophic consequences like the Gulf oil spill,” said George Kimbrell, a senior staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “We have a cultural amnesia about these things.”
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