Sunday, November 22, 2015
Salmon is the first Genetically Engineered Animal to win US Approval for Food
The first genetically modified animal approved by the FDA for consumption is the Atlantic Salmon. A company named AquaBounty Technologies have been breeding the genetically enhanced fish in closed off farms. The main improvement to this AquaAdvantage salmon is that it takes much shorter for them to grow to full length. They are able to grow year round rather than just in the Spring and the Summer. This allows the fish to grow to full size in 18 months rather than how long it usually takes which is 3 years.
Transgenic organisms are animals or plants that have a foreign gene from a different species that was deliberately inserted into its genome. The foreign gene is formed using Recombinant DNA technology. This is done in order to improve a specific aspect of the host animal. For the atlantic salmon it was to enhanced its growth rate. One of the foreign genes added to the salmon's genome of 40,000 genes was a growth hormone regulating gene from a Chinook Salmon. The other foreign gene was a DNA promoter from an ocean pout.
Of course with all genetic modified organisms there is always controversy. This case is no different. The opponents of the AquaAdvantage salmon are concerned that if the salmon are able to escape their farm that they will alter the ecosystems of surrounding fish. Also the opponents believe that the salmon that is genetically modified should at least be labeled, however at the moment the FDA says they do not need to be labeled.
In my opinion I feel like this is an enormous step for the science community. Hopefully this will lead to more approvals from the FDA of genetically improved food. I feel that with the technology that we have we can do so much to make the starvation problem around the world diminish.