*Test tube salmon could be on its way to a grocery store near you, and if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its way the label on the package won’t indicate which was farm-raised or genetically engineered from a lab. It’s an experiment that has not been tested in the mainstream food supply. So there’s no way of knowing if the altered fish could cause an allergic reaction in some people with food allergies until it’s too late.
It sounds like the beginning of a bad SciFi Channel movie: People all over of the country unknowingly eat genetically altered fish. And just like the movie “The Fly,” they start to develop fish-like characteristics until one day their appendages fall off only to be replaced by scales and fins and they swim away.
Call me dramatic, but I’ll take my chances with the farm-raised fish over test tube fish any day. For one thing, I don’t fully understand the process an “engineered” fish goes through from the lab to my plate. And I’m not alone. Only a quarter of Americans say they fully understand what genetically engineered seafood is all about, according to a recent poll. Although most people are ok with genetically altered fruits, vegetables and chickens that produce those huge fried wings you get at the Chinese restaurants, 65 percent of the people say they don’t want to eat genetically engineered fish. And of the 35 percent of the people who would be willing to try it, most of them say grocers should be made to use labels on the package so everyone easily can tell the difference.
According to a National Public Radio report, genetic engineering splices good traits of one living being into another using rDNA , or rDNA technology. One company that provides test tube salmon has injected the fertilized eggs of Atlantic salmon with a growth gene from Pacific Chinook salmon. And that overrides the Atlantic salmon’s tendency to stop growing in colder weather.
Did I lose you?
This process allows the salmon to grow twice its normal size in half the time. It effectively renders the majority of the fish sterile. It protects the company’s intellectual material. And that means more money for the altered -fish manufacturing company.
Sure, the test-tube fish manufacturing people will talk about how this kind of technology is needed to keep up with the demand for seafood and how without it the American people will suffer. But the fact remains the FDA doesn’t have enough evidence to ensure one way or another the effects the “engineered” fish will have in the general population. And judging from the FDA’s track record on preventing the release of new drugs with deadly side effects, I don’t intend to be the guinea pig. And neither should you.
Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at firstname.lastname@example.org. And see the video version of her journal at youtube.com/steffanierivers.