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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Something’s fishy: Genetically modified food can ruin one’s dinner

Imagine a nice fish dinner: Cooked salmon, maybe a few spices sprinkled on top. Now imagine a nice fish dinner supplied by AquaBounty: The same thing apart from one difference. This fish has been toyed with. Behind the big words and long descriptions gracing this new product lies an advertisement for genetically modified salmon.

AquaBounty Technologies is “a biotechnology company dedicated to the improvement of productivity in aquaculture,” its website proclaims. It mixes biology and molecular technology to create multitudes of sterile female salmon that grows twice as fast as the typical wild salmon. Despite these “miraculous” claims, these salmon are in no way helping the world, but rather becoming a considerable risk to the natural habitats.

Genetically altered animals and products are on the rise as science and engineering advance into areas never explored. Extensive research on changing animals has been done on various areas of life, ranging from attempts at cloning to enhancing flavor.

Seemingly safe and beneficial for the scientific world, these salmon could potentially damage the population of native fish if released into the wild by taking up space and food resources that the original fish need, according to Fish farm escapees are routine, and sometimes impossible to prevent.

Once free, the fish can move to other countries via the world’s waterways, thus threatening other fish habitats as well, according to Greenpeace, an environmental organization. Scientists also worry about the possible dangers that could come with these genetically modified fish interbreeding with those that grow naturally.

Additionally, genetically altering fish appears economically unfavorable since many people would refuse to buy, eat or distribute them. 

“If my patrons don't want genetically engineered fish, then I certainly don't want to serve it. My customers congratulate me for signing the pledge,” said Todd Gray, award-winning chef and owner of Equinox Restaurant in Washington,D.C., to Salmon Nation.

Generally speaking, the idea of modifying fish for a more beneficial meal is unnecessary due to fish’s already quite large contributions to healthy living. Fish is a main source of protein and can sometimes have fewer calories than other meat sources when served in various ways.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, fish consumption can lower people’s risks of death from heart disease by 36 percent, reducing blood clotting all the while. Fish straight from the ocean can reduce the possibility of death by heart diseases, and doesn’t need to be genetically modified.

Harvard states that the fatty acids of fish can raise the levels of certain brain chemicals, aiding in reducing depression. There is no logical reason to alter fish when they have a long and growing list of benefits Harvard has compiled.

“Enhancing” salmon, or any fish for that matter, has no initial benefits besides being able to put that in the “useful” things list that science has accomplished. Imagining this being applied to more commonly eaten foods like bread or steak is disturbing. This giant science experiment carries too many risks to be worthwhile and scientists need to keep their equipment away from the dinner table for the sake of the consumer.

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