This GM breakthrough could be the first of many

 

Share
Related Topics

An American licence to permit the commercial development and sale of genetically modified salmon could open the door on a new era of GM animals designed for human consumption, although at present there are few signs they are wanted by either consumers or supermarkets.

The AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon engineered with two extra genes – one from the Pacific Chinook salmon and one from an eel-like species called the ocean pout – which together boost the fish's growth hormones so it puts on weight all year round instead of seasonally.

AquaBounty Technologies of Maynard, Massachusetts, says its GM salmon grows twice as fast as conventional farmed fish.

It can also be reared on land-based fish farms, rather than in sea pens, which according to the company are less polluting as well as having smaller carbon footprints and lower transport costs because they can be sited nearer big cities.

If the US government gives approval to AquaBounty, which now looks increasingly likely, it could change the economics of salmon farming. This could put commercial pressure on producers in Britain and the rest of Europe to follow suit, even though they and their customers have little appetite for GM food.

The Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation said it opposed the GM fish and envisaged no circumstances where it would become necessary to introduce them. However, this stance could change if other salmon producers can undercut them on costs and efficiency. If the AquAdvantage salmon is officially sanctioned in the US, other GM animals may not be far behind.

Earlier this year, scientists in New Zealand announced they had created a GM cow capable of producing milk which lacks a key protein which can trigger allergic reactions in children.

Scientists have also produced GM pigs which can digest phosphorus in their food more efficiently, cutting food costs as well as lowering levels of harmful pollutants in their manure.

Other researchers have created GM goats which produce milk with a protein that can reduce the risk of diarrhoea in children by improving the bacterial gut flora.

Meanwhile, scientists in Britain are working on GM chickens that are disease resistant.

However, few people see the need for such developments in food technology. The hostility in Britain and the rest of Europe to GM crops such as canola is likely to be dwarfed by the opposition to GM animals, which will be seen as an animal welfare issue as well as an unnecessary risk to human health and the environment.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker
 

Obama must speak out – Americans are worried no one is listening to them

David Usborne
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn