By now, you may have seen November’s big biotech news: The Food and Drug Administration has approved the AquAdvantage salmon — a genetically-modified Atlantic salmon that contains growth-promoting genes from Pacific chinook and an eel-like fish called the ocean pout. It’s the first time a GM animal has ever been approved for human consumption, and it should hit grocery shelves in around two years. Cue the panic!
Concern has focused on the Frankenfish’s potential to inflict environmental harm, including the possibility that the creatures could escape farms and outcompete or breed with wild fish.
To reduce that threat, AquaBounty plans to grow its creations in terrestrial tanks in Panama and Canada and will only rear sterile females. Sterilization isn’t foolproof, and anyone who’s ever seen Jurassic Park knows that life has a way of foiling the best laid-plans of hubristic genetic engineers (some activists point out, for instance, that AquaBounty’s egg production facility is perilously close to an estuary).
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