Genetically modified salmon

Three months ago I wrote about genetically modified (GM) livestock. Two days ago I asked whether GM is a good way forward. Now here’s a new GM story. My fellow blogger narhvalur tells us of GM salmon.

Narhvalur calls this fish genetically engineered (GE) which is the same thing as GM. I wish we were all saying ‘GE’ not ‘GM’, because making these fish really is a kind of engineering. But I don’t want to get bogged down in names. Let’s consider the science.

Following narhvalur’s lead, I recommend this article in the Examiner and this one in Food and Water Watch. Both are well worth a read.

Here’s my response to narhvalur’s post.

‘Thank you for blogging about this. It caught my eye because your title could imply that genetically engineered (GE) salmon had been shown to give consumers cancer and allergies. But no, it hasn’t. I’ve followed your links to read the Examiner article and the Food and Water Watch article. I see that no evidence of harm to consumers’ health has been reported.

‘As in the story a few months ago about GM (=GE) corn allegedly giving rats cancer, I see an absence of evidence here. Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence. So I’m still open to changing my mind. But for the time being, we’ve no evidence that GM foods are unsafe to eat.

‘What we have is speculation. Food and Water Watch says, ‘GE salmon exhibited 40 percent higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1, which has been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers.’ So do an experiment, say I. Feed the GE fish to lab animals and seek cancer. Without that kind of science, we still have no evidence that GM foods are unsafe to eat.

‘Having said that, I find that most of the other objections to this GM salmon are valid. The people at Food and Water Watch are pushing an anti-GM opinion, but I think they’re pushing it well. They’ve convinced me that this GM fish shouldn’t be put into net cages in the open sea.’

[Edit: I was mistaken to say that Prof Seralini’s rats got cancer. They got tumours but not cancer.]


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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5 Responses to Genetically modified salmon

  1. eideard says:

    Until I can taste the difference, until peer-reviewed science tells me otherwise, I plan on eating GE salmon if cost or other benefits accrue.

    Of course, I support sane, reasonable farming methods. GE or otherwise.

    Hot smoked with black tea smoke for about 20 minutes in my stovetop smoker BTW. 🙂

    • argylesock says:

      I intend to read the peer-reviewed science which is linked to in the Food and Water Watch article. It won’t be today but when I’ve read those articles, I’ll review them on this blog.

      I think there are questions to answer about GM escapees carrying disease to the wild salmon, and crossbreeding with those wild salmon. Hence questions about knock-on effects on ecosystems. Also about the welfare of the GM fish.

    • argylesock says:

      Belated response: the peer review system isn’t perfect. I’ve been the reviewer and the reviewed. This is the best system anybody’s invented, but it’s prone to human error.

  2. EqFe says:

    One can only wonder why the testing is following and not proceeding the introduction of these fish into open water net cages where escape is guaranteed.

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