Genetically-modifying Atlantic salmon is a topic that’s been in the news a lot lately, and questions over its safety and its potential impact on the environment still rage. The FDA is currently determining whether GMO salmon will be allowed for sale, but how exactly will they determine that GMO salmon is safe to eat? Easy, they’ll just use the Dan Aykroyd method…
From this story in Slate:
_The Boston-based company AquaBounty has engineered a faster-growing, cold-resistant salmon by splicing in genes from other fish, and now the FDA is holding hearings on whether to allow this genetically modified creature into your grocer’s freezer case. How do you prove that a GMO fillet is safe to eat?
__To gather such proof, AquaBounty analysts started by freezing a few samples of their genetically altered salmon and extracting proteins. They compared the proteins to reference data on unaltered salmon in the FDA’s Regulatory Fish Encyclopedia, which classifies 1,700 commonly consumed species by size, shape, color, and biochemical properties.
Lab technicians also conducted blood tests. (These indicated that one particular growth-promoting protein was elevated in the new salmon, but not so much that it would make you sick.) Finally, they homogenized the fillet samples in a blender, and analyzed them for fat, protein, carbohydrates, and a host of vitamins and minerals. The tests showed that only vitamin B6 content differed significantly, but still not enough to raise concerns.
Not everyone likes these tests. Opponents argue that we just don’t have a firm grasp on the subtle changes that genetic engineering can cause. They point to a recent experiment that suggested that genetically modified soy beans might sterilize hamsters after three generations. (It also seemed to promote hair growth in their mouths and turn their testicles blue.)
But studies like this are rare and possibly the result of contaminants like herbicides. There is no indication at this point that the FDA will require genetically modified organisms to go through feeding studies._
Your thoughts? Were you perhaps expecting something a bit more scientifically rigorous?