News / USA

US Government Considering Genetically Modified Animal for Human Consumption

Normal salmon (below), compared to a genetically-modified variety
Normal salmon (below), compared to a genetically-modified variety
Zulima Palacio

The US government is considering, for the first time, the approval of a genetically-modified animal for human consumption.  The animal being considered is salmon, but approval could open the door for other animals as well.  Those who favor the move say it would help feed the world's rapidly-growing population at a time that depleted rivers and oceans are becoming unable to fulfill the demand. 

After years of consideration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reported to be ready to approve commercial sale of a genetically-modified salmon for human consumption.   The controversial decision - which has been years in the making - could open the door for other genetically-modified animals as well.  

AquaBounty - a company with roots in the United States and Canada, has been studying and modifying the genetics of salmon for more than 20 years.  Ronald Stotish is the President of AquaBounty Technologies.

"It's a salmon that grows approximately twice as fast as a conventional salmon and it grows at that rate simply because we have given it a second copy of the growth hormone gene from the salmon," said Ronald Stotish. "It's a salmon gene in a salmon."

Stotish says AquaBounty chose salmon because of its high nutritional value.

"We expect as the world population increases, the requirement for high quality protein sources will increase," he said. "Fish are among the most efficient converters of feed to edible protein."  

Stotish says US approval is a very important step in the eventual commercialization of this fish for "aquaculture", or fish-farming, around the world.

"All we sell is an egg that produces an all female salmon, they are all sterile," said Stotish. "They will also be grown on land base contained systems, tanks or raise ways, similar to the way trout is produced now."

Stotish says producing only sterile females, and raising them in contained systems, avoids the environmental concern of escapes that could affect the biodiversity of wild salmon.  He says people should not be concerned that the fish are genetically modified

"In the US we're already consuming significant quantities of genetically-modified soy beans, wheat, sorghum and a variety of agricultural crops and that is true around the world," he said.

However, that is only partially true.  According to a World Bank Report, only 22 countries have planted genetically-modified seeds, on about eight percent of the global crop area.  The reason, the report says, is the public perception of health and environmental risks.

The European Union regulates genetically-modified crops strictly, allowing only a handful of their products.  Most recently, the EU proposed to give individual member countries the option to allow or restrict them.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration - which would make the decision on approval - declines to comment.  But the Department of Agriculture expresses concern about the depletion of wild fish stocks and the need for more food production.  Mark Mirando is with the Department's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

"The demand for seafood in the US and worldwide is rapidly increasing but the ability of the oceans to supply that food, even at the current levels, disregarding population increases and increases in demand; the ability of the oceans to supply that is diminishing," said Mark Mirando.

According to the Agriculture Department's figures, the value of aquaculture production in the U.S. has risen to nearly $1 billion over the past 20 years, mostly due to a growing demand for fish in general and harvesting restrictions on wild fish.

"If the genetic modification is shown to be safe and there is no concern that the animals would escape into the wild and outcompete the native stocks then I think this could be a valuable approach to improving the efficiency of food production," he said.

Regardless of population projections - given the reservations about genetically-modified crops around the world - it is easy to speculate that a genetically-modified food animal could encounter even greater resistance and controversy.

You May Like

Multimedia Baltimore 'Victory Rally' Follows Charges in Detainee Death

Baltimore mayor says "my goal has always been to not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary." More

UN Denies Child Sex Abuse Cover Up in CAR

UNHCR says senior official suspected of leaking report suspended for breaching rules More

Nepal Officials Slammed Over Aid Response

VOA News has compiled from various organizations complaints from across Nepal of bottlenecks at customs, repeated harassing inspections of aid convoys and seizure of goods More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs