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Meet - and eat - the modified Atlantic salmon

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

FDA to approve Aqua Bounty's new fish tweaked with genetic material from chinook salmon and eel-like species called ocean pout ...Read the full article

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  1. Kevin de Montreal from Canada writes: If the FDA has to approve it then it's not food. If your great grandmother ate it when she was 6, it's food.
  2. Rick Taves from Chatham-Kent, Canada writes: This is a very disturbing story. It does not indicate the nature of the containment structures in which these fishare tol be raised. I assume they are in open water like those in which the farmed Atlantic salmon now on the market are grown. In that case, the new GE fish genetic material could contaminate other fish stocks as well.
  3. Mark Shore from Ottawa, Canada writes: Great news, this will help clear the way for my patented energy bars made with sludge from sewage processing plants. Full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, and held up only by people's foolish squeamishness and stupid regulations.

    'Better than Nature!' (TM)
  4. Klaus Gieger from Moffat, Ontario, Canada writes: Frankenfish....yummm!
  5. Rusty Shackleford from Canada writes: Kevin de Montreal from Canada writes: If the FDA has to approve it then it's not food. If your great grandmother ate it when she was 6, it's food.


    FDA is a corporate tool.
    After several tries and much arm twisting by Dick Cheney and his corporate pals, aspartame was finally approved despite volumes of evidence that shows it to be harmful.

    Then there's that law of unintended consequenses. What effect will introducing genetically engineered species into the natural biosphere
    eventually have in 50-100 years?

    Nobody knows, and nobody cares.
  6. Farm Boy from The Burbs, Canada writes: Sorcerer's apprentices!
  7. M Spiker from Ottawa, Canada writes: Rusty...Aspartame was approved by the FDA in 1983, 1993, and 1996 and the EU in 1994...the blame Cheney conspiracy theory doesn't quite work.
  8. Kim Philby from Canada writes: Mmm...barbecued salpout - also known as soylent red.
  9. E B from Canada writes: If this goes through there will be one less food I will be able to eat. All in the name of profit! Darn it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  10. Billiam Smith from Montreal, Canada writes: Blah, blah blah. "Change is bad." "Only things that happen by mistake in nature should be allowed to exist." "Genetic modification is somehow different from interbreeding." Etc. We've heard it all before.
  11. Lawrence Hale from Cornwall PE, writes: Fish is fish. Bring it on. BBQ at my house!
  12. E B from Canada writes: Billiam Smith: this is no nature's mistake! Chinook salmon and an eel-like creatures can't generate a new specie. Only profits can.
  13. George BrownIII from Christmas Island writes: Hmmm glow in the dark sushi.
  14. Give peace a chance from Canada writes: Give me a shore lunch of fresh pickerel or northern pike with fried onions and potatoes or speckled trout done on an open grill on the Albany River like i have done many times or fresh BC salmon, nothing on earth like it! But forget me eating anything that resembles 'frankenfish'. When the day arrives that we really can't eat anything from the sea because all stocks have been destroyed, i will truly become a total vegetarian, which is the direction the world is heading as we speak. Our factory animal farms are also disgusting and only for profit and as the worlds' population goes closer to 10 billion in a few short years, we will be in big big trouble.
  15. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    No FrankenFish for me!

    The public should have the knowledge of whether the food is genetically or not. The public are entitled to that.

    Write your MP.

    Food may be GE'd to produce a higher level of cholesterol or female growth hormone. But we don't know because we aren't asking.

    Label info or no sale.

  16. John P.G. Savage from Gatineau, Canada writes: Too bad we won't genetically alter our own species to improve the way we think.
  17. scott thomas from Canada writes: Grows twice as fast. And what will it displace?
  18. Klaus Gieger from Moffat, Ontario, Canada writes: Didn't I see this Simpson's episode:

    Blinky, the Three-Eyed Frankenfish.
  19. Commander Groovechild from Canada writes: This fish doesn't sound too good. I'm taking salmon off the list of stuff to eat. Our fish represent millions of years of trial and error leading to an ecologically optimal design. Then somebody decides to combine Chinook with something resembling an eel. This new fish should be called he Chinook Puke.
  20. Blade Runner from Canada writes: If the FDA has to approve it then it's not food. If your great grandmother ate it when she was 6, it's food.

    Now that is good advice, since everything back then food was actually REAL and did not need the FDA approval.
  21. Blade Runner from Canada writes: Grows twice as fast. And what will it displace?


    Just wait till this monster gets loose....
  22. Reality Cheque from Canada writes: Atlantic salmon is already off my menu, because every last fish on the market is farmed; wild stocks are tiny and thus off-limits to commercial fisheries.

    And anybody who actually pays attention to the taste and texture of their food can tell you that farmed salmon is usually somewhere between bland and disgusting.

    Not to mention that farming this fish is ecologically disastrous -- the feed is made from rapidly diminishing stocks of smaller wild creatures. The fish are often penned too densely. etc, etc.

    So now we are going to have a version of an already sub-par fish that grows twice as fast. It will be billed as a "healthy" choice, a good source of Omega 3, and so on.

    But to some of us, Atlantic salmon might as well be extinct already. Sad. And now this genetically engineered fish will be farmed on the west coast. When -- not if -- it finds its way into the wild, it will either displace native species or interbreed and forever change wild stocks, or both.

    Another big win for civilization, eh?
  23. Disgusted Canadian from Canada writes: Just what humanity does not need is another genetically altered food. When will the health departments of the world say enough is enough. Probably never!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  24. Anna Korenova from Czech Republic writes: So, the disappearancce of BC wild salmon cause by farming Atlantic salmon in Bc waters is not bad enough? We are asking for another ecological catastrophe?
  25. Johan Wunderbar from Canada writes: I really don't understand why people have such a problem with eating genetically modified food. This salmon is the same as a Chinook salmon, except it has one extra protein. That one protein will be degraded by the enzymes in your stomach along with the 10,000 other types of proteins in the fish. As long as it doesn't affect the taste, there shouldn't be a problem. Unless the extra protein is some sort of toxin there won't be any risk to human health at all.

    The only real problem that I have is the risk of these engineered fish escaping into the wild and out competing the wild type stock. For that reason I think they should be farmed on land in tanks.
  26. hostile camper from wayoutwest, Canada writes: It seems to me that genetically-modified foods' competitive advantage persists only with minimal or no labelling. Stamp the product as "Not-Quite-Natural" (in big black type) and guess where sales go.
  27. John Smith from Toronto, Canada writes:
    Johan Wunderbar, if this new processed fish product (I can't call it fish, just like processed cheese food can't be called cheese) has just the one teeny-weeny extra protein that you say we don't need to worry about, then why do we need it added in the first place?
    Just because something CAN be done, why MUST it be done?
  28. Andrew Burke from Canada writes: omg, it's not natural!! we all know that naturally occurring things like arsenic, and uranium are good, and that everything artificially produced is horrible.
  29. Andrew Burke from Canada writes: People have absolutely no clue what they're talking about. Genetic engineering isn't something new, we've been practicing it for thousands of years through domestication, among others. All that has changed is we have a deeper understanding of the mechanics and are able to operate on a much more subtle level.

    The banana, dear Rover come immediately to mind.
  30. Kim Philby from Canada writes: Norm: "I just came from dinner at The Hungry Heifer. They had the baff on special."

    Sam: "Don't you mean "beef"?

    Norm: "No, it was baff - a beef-like substance. Tomorrow's special is loobster."
  31. Bobby the K from Dreadnaught, ON, Canada writes: ~

    M Spiker from Ottawa - You're right, it wasn't Cheney who used gov't influence to get aspartame legal, it was Donald Rumsfeld.
  32. Reality Cheque from Canada writes: Andrew Burke: it's true that selective breeding is a form of genetic manipulation. (Which can have unintended negative consequences, too. Rover's hip dysplasia and the Panama blight say hi.)

    But selective breeding doesn't deal with distant species; it's only done within species or between closely related ones. With genetic engineering, industry has decided that because we can bestow a trait from one species on an unrelated one, that it's fine and dandy and we should just do it.

    Are we really taking all the necessary care to identify and eliminate unintended consequences before unleashing these products? I doubt it. Instead, it looks like we're just going to put this stuff out there and see what sort of environmental and health consequences crop up in 20 or 30 years, just like we did with all kinds of useful non-food compounds over the years.

    Anyway, as someone who's all for GMO, I hope you're also for full labelling of such products. That would go a long way toward shutting up those of us who haven't a clue what we're talking about. And yet the industry won't accept labelling. Why is that? Are they not proud of their accomplishments?
  33. Harvey Mushman from cambridge, Canada writes: Here's your choices with respect to providing protein for human diets: 1) massive reduction in the world's population, 2) deplete existing fisheries and other "natural" sources to the point of extinction or 3) develop better, faster growing, "artificial" sources of protein through scientific means such as genetic engineering.

    Too many people, not enough resources to sustain them. Ecology 101.
  34. Interest from the West from Canada writes: Under current Canadian law, GE foods do not need to be labelled, the article stated.

    If our gov't can't protect us from frankenfish, then we'll just have to make sure that we only purchase wild fish and fish products, not farm fish. This means cutting out the processed foods that are bad for you anyway, as who knows what is in those fish sticks you feed your kids.
  35. Mark Shore from Ottawa, Canada writes: Andrew Burke, you have little basis for your 'absolutely no clue' statement. In the case of recombinant or hydrid DNA and other low level genetic modifications of living organisms used for food, operating at a much more subtle level (of science) is potentially a very dangerous thing. Much the same way that improving the economics of large-scale agribusiness and food processing through chemistry has not turned out to be an unalloyed benefit.

    Domestication and selective breeding have the benefits of being slow, controllable, and in many cases inherently self-limiting or self-correcting (e.g., sterile offspring).

    To claim that our current science and technology has a profound understanding of the potential long term risks and consequences of introducing GMO products into the food chain is grossly overstating the case. Since by far the main force driving this is profit for a small number of commercial enterprises, I hardly see it being worth the risk to either the public or wild ecosystems.
  36. Tim Fromhere from Mexico writes: A lot of what we produce for food is not natural. Corn has been modified so much that it could no longer survive in the wild - it cannot reproduce itself because its seed pods are wound too tightly to open without human intervention. Broccli was invented only about 100 years ago by crossing a coliflower with a cabbage and kohlrabi even more recently by crossing a turnip and a cabbage.

    As for animals, I sincerely doubt that modern chickens could survive in the wild. They can't fly, they can't run very fast, and the roosters rarely go more than a couple of hours without announcing their whereabouts to any critter in the market for some easy meat and/or eggs.
  37. Andrew Burke from Canada writes: Re: Mark Shore, Reality Cheque.

    I don't really disagree with either of you. My disagreement is with those who label it an "evil science.", that it is inherently wrong. It alone is neither good nor evil. It can be put to either use, and I certainly am not a fan of the way it's being appropriated by big business.
  38. Keitl Gilbert from Canada writes: So NAFTA and other treaties we signed on to may require Canada to allow this product in?

    Thank you again 'Lyin' (and Thieving) Brian' Mulroney. Oh, and Shifty Jean Chretien.
  39. Max van Bel from Canada writes: I am not going to eat GM food or animals fed with GM food and i dont think any enlightened Canadian will do so either. Especially after hearing about the 10 year old girl developing breast cancer. As well as 3 year old girls starting to go through puberty. An now there is a big ho ha about our men losing their fertility and a whole host of other problems. Did you hear Canada is now going to start growing GM wheat? Scary stuff going on. I hope this will become an election issue, we have to make sure our issues yours and mine are not hijacked big money corporations as they usually are. For the sake of our children and their children.
  40. El Christador from Vancouver, Canada writes: If the FDA has to approve it then it's not food. If your great grandmother ate it when she was 6, it's food.

    By this logic, if the US gov't decided to require FDA approval for new cultivars developed with "conventional" breeding methods, they would stop being food too. A lot -- if not all -- of the plants and animals we eat now have been changed from what your grandmother ate when she was 6 through conventional breeding. There just hasn't been oversight of the changes. The implicit logic in the above quote seems to be that a lack of regulatory oversight makes things safe.
  41. Michael Kirkland from Vancouver, Canada writes: Choke on it luddites.

    The government doesn't mandate labelling for non-Kosher food, either. If you want food prepared according to a strict superstitious regime, I'm sure you can find someone willing to produce and label it for you. Leave the rest of us be.
  42. George Nikitin from Hamilton, Canada writes: Dangerous tinkering...I hope they've considered all the possible consequence HAR HAR HAR.
  43. George Nikitin from Hamilton, Canada writes: I take enormous comfort in the fact that that our leaders bend to industry and money and that real any stewardship of our future, beyond the next fruitless election, does not exist.
  44. O Perdana from Canada writes: Codex Alimentarius lecture by Ian R. Crane :
  45. Jenny any Dots from Canada writes: It's amazing how many commenters have no clue what they are talking about here. The reason you can't farm sockeye salmon is because they are too pugnacious...they are not extinct as someone above mentioned but they are close due, not to farmed salmone but due to overfishing and habitat destruction, now we can talk about profit...the profits made by the commercial fishermen for decades and the logging companies for at least as long. As for the farmed fish...go and catch your own wild chicken, beef or pork...find yourself some wild mussels, clams, prawns or catfish...look out for wild bison, venison and duck...good luck finding any of it-it is all farmed...why the beef with fish??? (oops, forgot to mention the trout)
  46. E B from Canada writes: There is a huge difference between modification of the species through breeding techniques and biological intervention by direct DNA manipulation.
    The first one has a proven though not perfect record. The second one forces all of us to become guinea pigs in the consumtion of products that never before were eaten by a body that evolved through millions of years of very slow changes and that can only recognize known molecular combinations.
  47. Sebastian Cobe from Calgary, Canada writes: I hope these fish will be cheaper so I can afford salmon more often.

    Harvey Mushman is right, we need either less people or ways to make more food. It is people like the commentors above that have kept Africans scared of GM crops so they starve.
  48. Mike McFae from Canada writes: Stupid article designed to incite hysterical responses...what's next , an article to discuss modified vegegables/fruits/butter , etc.
  49. E B from Canada writes: The article is anything but stupid. What is stupid is expressing scorn on informations you haven't got a clue about.
  50. Reality Cheque from Canada writes: So, if I understand correctly...

    - We need more food to help sustain unchecked population growth. The quality of the food doesn't matter, as long as everybody's getting 2,500 cheap calories a day.

    - Farming is as it is and we should just suck it up and not question what we're being fed. Animal health and quality of life are irrelevant as long as we all have enough cheap protein. (Who cares if it tastes lousy and/or makes you sick?)

    - Farming salmon -- carnivores fed on wild protein -- is no different than raising chickens. Even better if the salmon have been engineered to grow twice as fast! (Somebody better figure out what they're going to eat once the sardines are gone.)

    - If you dislike farmed salmon for whatever reason, you must be in favour of the extinction of wild populations. (BTW, nobody mentioned sockeye before Jenny at 4:16. What was that about?)

    What's truly disturbing is that our scientifically illiterate society is full of distrust for science's grand discoveries and theories, but willing to swallow just about anything from the branches of science that mess with the food we eat.

    Sometimes I feel like I'm living inside a Philip K. Dick novel, I swear.
  51. Commander Groovechild from Canada writes: It should say right on the label of the can, "Warning: If you knew the actual contents of this can, you would likely throw up." The only reason why this stuff happens in Canada is because we don't know about it.
  52. Hep Cat from Dog Patch, Canada writes: OK! - So what I want to know is - will I have to use Genetically Modified Bait to catch these babies?

    Should I use a fly or a lure - or maybe eel like bait?

    This is going to be fun fun fun..!

    Gone Fish'in...............
  53. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Remember Dolly the cloned sheep? She wasn't really cloned. She had a piece of dna added that caused her to produce a protein that was excreted in her urine.

    Th whole idea of GM animals is that the dna can be tweaked to produce foods with designed purpose.

    It is possible to produce a living cow whose muscles provide no nutrient value to people because the subtle structure of the amino acids can be altered.

    It is possible to produce milk with elevated estrogen thereby making males who drink it... well ... girly.

    As of now, the food producers don't have to report the effects of the GMs.

    That is very bad.

    Label this stuff!!

  54. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Where is Martin Mittlestaedt when you need him. Hey Marty!!!

    How do you like them genetically engineered proteins an hormones in your food?

    Forget PET bottles and PVC!!!

  55. WestCoast SalmonFarmer from Ucluelet, Canada writes: It's funny that people seem to think that a GMO animal is much different than an animal that has been selectively bred over many generations. Just because you can use technology to get right to the end result does not mean you have created a radioactive, cancer causing element that has never been seen before. It is still a fish. I farm plain old Atlantics and know for a fact that they are delicious, nutritious and better suited to domestication than Pacific species. Farming fish is the most efficient form of food production. As for depleting the wild stocks - How much fishmeal do you think is fed to chickens or pigs? I know that a fish converts food to growth at close to 1.3:1 ( of which less than half is protein ) due to not having to heat itself or counteract gravity. I know they are naturally gregarious and will school together as close as they can even when given lots of space. I know that Atlantics do not often survive the wild Pacific and if they do make it to a river they come up against 5 species of local salmon that have already outcompeted and displaced them from the Pacific millions of years ago. We are talking about domestic animals which only live because we keep them safe and feed them. Save our wild stocks, don't eat so many of them. Try some farmed fish sometime, I bet you can't taste the eel-pout.
  56. A W from Canada writes: This was bound to happen sooner or later! What choice do we humans really have? We have abused our fish stocks in the Wild for far too many years and now it's payback time from "mother nature".
    With our population increasing every day, we are simple running out of food!
    The Natural fish stocks in the Wild cannot supply us with enough fish to feed us all. If we are to continue eating fish? The we have no choice but to find a way to produce enough fish to feed us.
    So this is the result!!!
    Just wait until this problem spreads throughout the food chain!
  57. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    We lable our foods for caloric content, transfats, salt.. etc

    Simply add label info for GE and GM foods.


    What is so hard about that?

  58. Raymond P from Canada writes: I received a letter from my MP saying that researchers were trying to create a genetically modified potato that would be more rectangular in order that french fries would be closer in size. My MP thought this was a great boon in Canadian research. It hasn't happened yet but keep on the lookout. It'll be a great day when all fries are the same size.
  59. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    Monsanto produced GE grain that is "terminal" That means that farmers cannot harvest it and extract the seed and plant the next years crop with it thereby making the farmer buy seed every year from Monsanto.

    Now imagine a field left to fallow without plowing the wheat under. It will be a dust heap because nothing will grow. All other crops were displaced by the GE grain and without the supply of seed the next year is dust.

    If a country is a war or under embargo or under pressure of some misfortune befalls Monsanto, where is all the grain going to come from?

    No imagine an aggressive GE fish. That escapes into the wild from a fish farm... like the zebra muscle has done. It will displace and wipe out the natural species.

    This is and will continue to happen.

    No... I want my food labeled.

  60. John Dixon from Vancouver, Canada writes: Hm. This is not encouraging. The US will win at any trade hearing as the product (animal?) is not PROVEN to be unsafe. The only way around this in the future is for the Federal Govt. to adopt the Precautionary Principle in the constitution, thereby giving them a "notwithstanding clause" to use in Trade disputes.
  61. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    John Dixon,

    I believe the obligation is that the food producer must PROVE that the food is safe. Not the inverse.

    In the USA, the FDA requires safety and efficacy. It also requires labeling and GMP (Good Manufacturing Processes).

    Health Canada requires similar things... I don't know the details.

    One would think that labeling would be a minimum?

  62. Carl C. from Montreal, Canada writes: Simply disgusting.
  63. E B from Canada writes: GE corn is sold legally in Canada and is not labelled as such. They call it Genetically Enhanced corn to fool us into buying it. What a crock! Enjoy your corn flakes.....
  64. BoB ImamI from Canada writes: ..//

    E B


    Do you have a web reference?

  65. Matt C from Canada writes: Brilliant. Genetically engineered atlantic salmon in open-net farms that frequently escape into the wild.

    Farmed salmon need food. Right now that food comes from wild fish stocks that are already at their limit. If these fish grow twice as fast, the farms will produce the same amount of fish in half the time. Clearly, the harvest rate of fish for the feed with have to increase.

    The public gets their tasteless atlantic salmon in half the time and the wild stocks go extinct twice as fast. Win-win!
  66. Tim THorton from Toronto, Canada writes: .
    I wonder if Monsanto or any of those genetic engineering companies have any secret studies that say genetically modified vegetation could destroy the bee population. But what the heck - they can create genetically modified fruits that don't need bees to pollinate. Monsanto will save us. We just have to pay them for every seed we plant while the seeds of natural vegetation will be stripped from the land until none exists.
    Sounds like under the current trade law, as long as the U.S. approves the product, they have to right to sell it here. So we can be their ginea pigs. Test it here first on real people before they sell in it the U.S.

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