Scientists create GM ‘Frankenfish’ which grows three times as fast as normal salmon
Scientists have created a GM ‘monster’ salmon which could soon be on dinner tables around the world.
The fish can grow two to three times faster than normal – meaning they can be killed at a younger age to maximise profits.
A U.S. company claims it has been given initial approval by American safety authorities for producing the salmon, which converts feed to muscle much more quickly.
British scientists have also been working on genetically modified versions of tilapia fish and edible carp.
However, critics of GM food fear the technology will lead to the creation of mutant species and could harm wild fish populations if they escape.
Research on GM trout in Canada found that while they grew faster and were much bigger, a number developed misshapen heads and bloated bodies.
While they grew many times larger than the wild species, they were likely to die before maturity and suffered unforeseen changes in their heads and bodies.
Genetic engineers at Aqua Bounty, a company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, are manipulating fish growth hormones to make the GM salmon grow more quickly.
This involves taking genes from the ocean pout and the chinook salmon. These trigger the release of growth hormone in the GM fish during their development.
One year after the salmon eggs hatch, those that have been genetically modified reach an average of 1,340g, compared to 663g for the ordinary Atlantic salmon.
The AquaAdvantage salmon reach a marketable size in 18-24 months, as opposed to 30 months for the normal variety.
Aqua Bounty claims it is part of ‘The Blue Revolution’ and says its mission is to ‘bring together biological sciences and molecular technology to enable an aquaculture industry capable of large-scale, efficient, and environmentally sustainable production of high quality seafood.’
Supporters of GM crops have always argued that there are no significant differences with crops bred through conventional means.
Aqua Bounty takes the same view of its ‘Frankenfish’.
Chief executive, Ron Stotish, said: ‘In every measurement and every respect, these fish are identical to Atlantic salmon.’
The firm hopes U.S. veterinary authorities will approve its GM salmon eggs for this year’s breeding season. In theory, the fish would then go into stores and restaurants by 2012.
It seems likely a pack of GM salmon would have to be identified on the label in a supermarket.
However, there is no requirement to label GM fish on restaurant menus, which means people may consume the salmon without realising.
The campaigning consumer and green group GM Freeze is concerned about the arrival of GM fish.
Its director, Pete Riley, said: ‘We are extremely concerned about the potential for these fish to escape.
‘If these fish are growing at twice the rate they’re supposed to be, there may be other things wrong with them.’
Aqua Bounty says there is no danger of its fish cross mating with wild fish because only female eggs that have been treated to ensure they are sterile will be created.
Sumber : Aquaculture News