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

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently  

Shia LaBeouf to Luis Suárez: Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Ellen E Jones
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” in March  

My best and worst stories of 2014

Simmy Richman
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015