As wild populations of forage fish dwindle, new genetically modified false flax intended for salmon feed could relieve that pressure, while also boosting omega-3 in farmed salmon, according to an ongoing British research project. Populations of forage fish, which make up the natural diet of wild salmon, are threatened as the growing salmon farming industry requires more and more. Alternative feeds have so far lacked enough omega-3.
But public acceptance of the discovery has a few hurdles—opposition to genetic modification as well as the sustainability movement’s wariness of fish farming in general. AquaBounty, the company responsible for genetically engineering an Atlantic salmon, has faced significant opposition, with many advocacy groups wary of its sustainability claims. Although the salmon was cleared by the FDA almost two years ago after a expose by the Genetic Literacy Project’s Jon Entine in Slate, it remains locked in regulation limbo, reportedly because of ongoing political interference from the White House.
The AquaAdvantage salmon genetically engineered by AquaBounty contains a hormone from a Chinook salmon to enable it to grow to full size in half the time. Many scientists believe that as world fish stocks are overexploited and demand for fish continues to grow, the GM salmon could help relieve pressure on wild fisheries through fish farming. It also brings fish to market faster meaning less wild forage fish for feed are needed to grow the salmon.
Yet there is a vocal environmentalist lobby opposing the AquaBounty salmon. Political watchdog and anti-GMO lobby group Food and Water Watch claims the salmon contains higher levels of a hormone that could cause cancer and has higher allergic potency
[Source: Rebecca Randall,Genetic Literacy Project. Full article]