Paul “four fish” Greenberg testified before congress yesterday about the dangers of genetically modified (GM) salmon. I am generally not nearly as concerned about GM crops and food as most enviros, but I’d rather not see people modifying wild organisms and then releasing them back into the wild. Below are a few exerpts from Paul’s testimony. You can download the entire transcript here.
Yes, the AquAdvantage fish can in ideal conditions grow significantly faster than nonengineered salmon. But, and this is a major “but”, the engineered fish needs comparable amounts of food as the non-engineered salmon to reach market weight. AquaBounty’s own predictions (and these are best case scenarios) put feed efficiency of the AquAdvantage salmon at only 10% better than unmodified salmon. This is not enough to justify the risks it entails. Moreover improved feed efficiency is just one pathway to decreasing farmed salmon’s footprint. In the decade since the AquAdvantage fish was synthesized, vegetable-based salmon diets have been created that require no wild fish meal at all. Some of these new feeds are made from recycled agricultural byproduct that might otherwise go unused. Developing alternative feed not alternative fish is, in my opinion, the critical next step for the aquaculture industry.
In other words genetically engineered salmon could give all American salmon a bad name whether they are farmed Atlantic salmon hailing from Maine or wild Pacific salmon from Alaska. Moreover the majority of Americans don’t want genetically engineered salmon. An online poll by the Wall Street Journal showed that only about 36% of consumers would willingly eat genetically engineered salmon if it were labeled as such. And in European markets 0% would eat it.