Crop farming is not the only industry which could benefit immensely from genetic engineering, aquaculture could boom thanks to this new technology. In order to maintain the present day per capita consumption of fish we will need to increase fish farming sevenfold. Normal salmon don’t grow in the winter, so aquaculture farms breeding them have to wait significantly longer before they can sell them than they would with another fish.


            Scientists in Canada have engineered a transgenic salmon with a gene from the ocean pout, which promotes growth during the winter. Although GM salmon don’t grow larger, they reach their full size in one fourth of the time. This could quadruple the production of aqua farmers across the world, increase their profits, and drive down the cost of fish. Without this transgenic salmon, it may become impossible to meet the demand for fish which keeps growing as the population increases.


            Some researchers believe that the GM salmon is an ecological disaster waiting to happen. If transgenic salmon escaped from fish pens in the open ocean, they would get five times the mating that an unmodified salmon would get. Females mate with larger fish because in theory, they have ‘good genes,’ and are able to avoid predators and secure resources. But since the GM salmon have been engineered to be larger, and have not actually grown by escaping predators and finding food, they would not necessarily make better fathers.    


            According to a computer model created by scientists at the University of Indiana, GM salmon got all the mating but were less fit than most fish, and produced weaker offspring. In the computer simulation, this mating trend led to extinction after 20 or 30 generations. If transgenic salmon were to escape into the open ocean, they could wipe out local fish populations.


            The aquaculture industry says they have already taken protective measures against the potential threat these GM salmon would pose. Ideally, all their fish would be female and sterile. While they cannot guarantee that are the transgenic salmon will be sterile, they can say with 100% certainty that they will all be female.


            But some activists are still not convinced. They claim that theoretically, all it would take for local populations of fish to be eradicated would be one escaped GM salmon. Technically, there could be an error and a male transgenic salmon could be bred and could escape. The probability of this scenario is extremely small, though it will increase and more and more breeding begins to take place in offshore pens.

Citation 12 (Harvest of Fear Video)

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