Genetically Modified Salmon
By far my most favorite seafood is salmon. I don’t even know for sure if salmon is a seafood since it comes out of a river, at least the ones I prefer to buy do so. I’m sure some technical hairsplitter somewhere will make a comment pointing out the error of my assumption that the animal classified as salmonus-eatemupis is a river fish and therefore not seafood. Out of all the things that come out of the water that isn’t considered some kind of plant or mineral, salmon is by far my favorite.
I prefer wild salmon. While the farm raised salmon might work in a pinch, to my taste buds the wild salmon is far deeper and more flavorful. When you see the two in the grocery store, wild salmon has a stronger color, going into a deeper ruby pink while the color of the farm raised fish looks washed out. Wild salmon feeds mostly off of wild shrimp which gives it its strong color. And while the farm raised stuff gets an injection of food coloring to help give it a more attractive color, it still comes out looking like a bleached, pastel orange.
But now I hear that a third option is coming onto the market. This morning while listening to my beloved National Public Radio, I hear that the United States Food and Drug Administration advisers is beginning two days of hearings on whether or not to recommend approval of genetically modified salmon for humans to eat. If given the advisers blessing it would be the first time a genetically modified animal will wind up on the nation’s kitchen tables.
AquaBounty Technologies, the developer of the genetically modified salmon, believes that its mutated fish could help reduce pollution, disease and other problems associated with having salmon fish farms and provide an alternative source of seafood to help reduce the impact of over fishing. The mutated salmon can grow bigger and faster than unmodified fish. Who can see a problem with that?
The people at AquaBounty really don’t have much vision. While they can envision salmon fish farms around the nation paying top dollar for their little mutant fishies, what would happen to the unmodified salmon population if one of those mutant fishes got into the natural environment and started squeezing out the natives?
Didn’t anybody learn anything from that fiasco with the Asian carp creeping its way into Lake Michigan? From what I understand, the United States Army Corp of Engineers is trying to hotwire Chicago canals to keep that beastie out of the Great Lakes and taking over those waters. At one point, somebody somewhere thought that fish was harmless or would have been properly contained. Who knew things were going to get out of hand?
And what kind of flavor would mutant salmon growing exponentially faster than its unmodified peers would have? If my experience with altered tomatoes is any indication, I’d probably think the packaging the mutant fish would arrive in would be tastier. If nature thought that it was a good idea for a fish to reach maturity in a couple of hours it would’ve probably happened by now. Nature’s secret ingredient has always been time. Farmers know that between sowing and harvest is time.
There are tree farms that plant modified trees that can reach maturity in a fraction of the time of regular trees. A tree that would take forty years to grow can now be done in ten years. But the lumber that is cut from that tree isn’t as strong as its naturally grown peers. If you pay close attention to the grain of the wood, you’d see that new wood has a lot of real estate between its grain lines compared to old woods that have tightly spaced lines. The integrity of old wood is superior to this new stuff that’s supposed to be such an improvement.
The truth of the matter is that the wood isn’t something developed for consumer’s benefit. It was developed to improve the profits of fish farms. Fish growing twice as big in half the time will take far less financial investment to raise to maturity. These companies will produce studies to show that the nutritional value of one of these balloon fish is the equivalent of the unaltered variety.
Like tomatoes altered to be produced year round and grow in a faction of the time they used to take, the resulting product will be something that wasn’t given the time necessary to mature with an honest to goodness flavor that can’t be reproduced artificially. If it was so easy to produce fish of the same quality as what grows in nature then farm raised salmon would be just as good as its wild cousin.
But I’m here to tell you that this is just not the case. Wild salmon is heads up superior than its farm raised cousin, and theoretically speaking these two come from the same stock. Throw in a genetically modified fish that grows so dramatically faster and larger, chances are really good that the flavor has suffered just as dramatically. Thank you AquaBounty and Food and Drug Administration, but I like my salmon totally natural and grown in the wild. No offense, but I’d prefer to keep genetically modified off the market.