After a decade of intense lobbying from a Maynard, Massachusetts-based salmon production corporation the Food and Drug Administration for the first time has given its seal of approval to a genetically modified animal.
AquaBounty, Inc. has accomplished this feat by taking one of nature's common salmon species and splicing into it the genes of a non-kosher bottom feeding pout, along with the genes from the much larger Chinook salmon, and then genetically modifying the mechanism that blocks the pituitary glands of these new fangled organisms (which controls growth) from telling them when it's time to stop growing.
The FDA has also concluded that since there are no obvious threats to human health from the new behemoth market-ready salmon species (which AquaBounty patented long ago) there's no need for AquaBounty to be required to label their new corporate Frankensalmon.
We've clearly crossed a significant threshold and have entered a brave new world.
My main concerns about this new AquaBounty "product" are not about the potential health effects on humans but the possibility of genetically polluting the wider ecology of the delicate interactions of species that spend part of their lives in the ocean but breed in fresh water.
Since these Frankensalmon are raised near fresh water sources such as rivers and streams to efficiently sweep out the waste products there is always the possibility of genetic pollution happening when some of these human-made animals escape into the wild, which already happens occasionally at normal salmon farms.
The good scientists at AquaBounty assure us that their Frankensalmon are perfectly safe because they're all females and sterilized.
But even if we can be certain that 100 percent of the new species of pituitary-enhanced fish are sterile it still doesn't mean that nature won't find ways to reproduce anyway (after all, our friends at AquaBounty have millions of years of evolution to control).
And even if they can't breed with wild salmon, they sure can gobble up a lot of resources that wild salmon need to survive. Also, the male wild salmon will likely try to breed with these females anyway because they didn't get the memo from AquaBounty that they're sterile, therefore exhausting themselves in fruitless efforts to reproduce that a far superior set of genes compel them to do - the kind of genes that took millions of years to evolve and have nothing to do with the profits of a corporation and its cheerleaders on Wall Street.
Another truly scary part of the story is the precedent the FDA's imprimatur of Frankensalmon gives to other corporate food giants to genetically create their own new "agricultural products" like Monsanto and other corporations have been doing with seeds for twenty years with all sorts of unintended problems.
Other fish corporations will follow suit in their own profit-driven mania to produce a host of new fast growing species. Time is Money.
What's to stop Colonel Sanders from creating a new genetically modified species of monster chickens that are market ready in a quarter of the time and possess six legs, ten wings and five breasts?
Or maybe our friends at Mickie-D's will click off the genetic "stop" trigger of pituitary glands of cows to engineer behemoths that are not only market ready in a matter of months but have the girth of rhinoceroses?
The FDA has opened up the floodgates of corporate America to a whole new world of agricultural genetic manipulation.
Critics of the new salmon species will be dismissed as Luddites or ignorant of the "science." But you can be perfectly comfortable with scientific innovation without jumping on board a corporate driven process that will always put making a profit over the public's right to question the long-term ecological or health effects of Frankenfish, hence, AquaBounty's glee at not having to label their new "brand."
And where are all those Christian fundamentalists when you need them? Can't they put aside their attacks on Planned Parenthood for a minute and take a look at how corporations like AquaBounty are genetically altering god's creations? Shouldn't these "pro-lifers" be a little pissed off about humans patenting new life? And maybe a lot of orthodox Rabbis are going to have to double check their lox since the pout gene in AquaBounty salmon is far from kosher.
The folks at AquaBounty know that while the general public will greet this new Frankensalmon with a bit of trepidation if they see a label, Wall Street will crave its sweet, sweet flavor.