Frankenfish: Weird Science

Atlantic Salmon Salmo solar whole isolated on a white studio background.

Last week I posted on the field of Epigenetics.  I as a lover of science I read all about it: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The field of Epigenetics is a very exciting area of science right now, especially in it’s application to the development of illness.  I enjoy reading about cutting edge research that is helping advance our understanding of health.  However, as with all things, there is a yin to the yang.  I am compelled to read about the science being conducted in the world that also has questionable outcomes.  Afterall, science research is led by humans, and even with good intentions, humans are not perfect.

Take for example: The Young Frankenfish.

Ahhh yes… the world of genetic modification has brought us Fish Tomatoes, Killer Korn and now Frankenfish.

Those pesky scientists wondered… if they mated a Genetically Modified (GMO) Salmon with a Wild Brown Trout… hmmm… what would happen?  I can appreciate inquiring minds want to know, but it can be very hard to control outcomes after this type of experiment is done.  Why the scientists who conduct this type of research ignore the potential consequences of their work is beyond me… but at any rate…

This experiment was done, and the researchers collected their data and made their conclusions.  Yes these two fish produced viable offspring.  And… Whoa Nelly…  the offspring produced were observed to be “Super Fish.”

So fast in their growth, so stealthy in their behaviour, that they could out compete their parents.  The outcome: The Frankenfish can stunt the growth and viability of Wild Salmon, in addition to GMO Salmon.

When I think about it would I rather have Wild Salmon for dinner or Frankenfish?  I personally would go with the Wild Salmon.  GMO food is known for having very messed up genetic profiles compared to the natural (aka “wild”) type of that food.  Many researchers are concerned about how GMO food’s tweaked genetic make-up can influence human physiology and disease development.  Those concerned have mainly focused on plant food (soy, corn, wheat), but there is a number of parties pushing for GMO fish for human consumption on the horizon in the US.

It sounds scary… and we may not even know in our lifetime how GMO foods will impact human health.  The up side it that humans have tolerated a lot in the recent past (food quality changes, environmental pollution, the age of technology) and we have adapted to some degree.

However, it is incredibly sad to me to think that perhaps someday “wild” plant and animal food types may dwindle if it’s unable to compete.  Nature is strong, but it often has no choice but to yield to science.

This is why it is so important that we make good food choices when we shop for our groceries.  Over the last ten years I have seen a remarkable shift in what grocery stores are offering to the public.  This is widely dictated by what we, the consumers, are choosing.  When we choose to buy locally grown food, organic food or “WILD” fish we are shifting the standard in food options.


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