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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid