General Question

rojo's avatar

Would you eat genetically modified (or engineered) salmon?

Asked by rojo (14861 points ) February 11th, 2013

The FDA has approved the production and selling of salmon that have been modified to grow faster and larger over a shorter period of time. I have serious concerns about the introduction of GM salmon into the environment. Evidently because of how they grow they require a much larger percentage of food resources and could kill off natural salmon. Producers have tried to allay these fears by producing sterile stock which, while it sounds good, is only 95% effective which means that when they do get into the natural world at least 5% will be able to reproduce. I find little or no comfort in this.

Worst still, while I have fewer concerns about them marketing and selling it to those who want it, I am taken aback by the refusal of our (US) government to require these Frankenfish (I like this term!) be labeled as such. Monsanto and others have spent very large sums of money to insure that we remain ignorant of what we are actually consuming.

What are your thoughts? Are you comfortable not having products such as this labeled? Is this much ado about nothing?

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63 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Although, I don’t think the fish would harm me, I am against what it does to the fish. I would try to avoid it like I avoid veal, because from a humane standpoint it upsets me. Same with how chickens now are bred to have huge breasts. From what I understand some chickens can barely stand up because of it. I need to research that more. Probably I am eating those chickens.

janbb's avatar

I think this is already happening with farm raised salmon and wild salmon; the farm raised is mingling with and degrading the wild. Another nail in the coffin of our poor, poor planet.

orlando's avatar

I would avoid this kind of food.

I’m also quite happy to live in the EU, where if a food contains or consists of genetically modified organisms, or even contains ingredients produced from GMOs, this must be indicated on the label.

Rarebear's avatar

Of course i would eat it. I love Salmon.

Seek's avatar

Most of what we consume is genetically modified.

Strawberries? Genetically modified. They’re a cross between tiny, sweet white strawberries and large, tasteless red ones.

Cabbage? Yep. Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy? All came from the same tiny flower: wild cabbage.

Humans have been selectively breeding their food since the first hunter-gatherer said “Y’know, if I leave some of these seeds on the ground, it’ll grow into more food!”

While I’d love to protect wild salmon as much as possible, I’d be a hypocrite if I jumped on the No GMO bandwagon. Because, well, I live in Florida and there are about three native species of edible plant available to me, and I like variety.

rojo's avatar

@orlando Well, you guys are next now that the US has given its’ approval. I hope you have better luck making them provide the proper labeling.

@Rarebear Me too. I love it, that’s why it pisses me off that I cannot know whether I am getting the real stuff or the frankenfish.

@Seek_Kolinahr true enough. Why can’t we get it labeled as such? I believe fear of consumer backlash is the answer. Maybe warranted, maybe not but it would be nice to make the call myself.

JLeslie's avatar

@rojo I am pretty sure California just voted the labelling down last election. Judi had done a Q about it. My memory might be wrong though.

@Seek_Kolinahr I think modifying plants is very different than animals. Don’t you?

rojo's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t know about it not hurting you. Here is an article about rBGH and its effects on the human body. The scary thing is that the only people who seem to do research on the effects are those who want to use them. At least, it seems they are the only ones funded and/or published.
I seem to remember a question about the onset of puberty occurring at a much earlier age than has been historically noted. I think someone mentioned the growth hormone in foods at that time as well.
And remember all the research that showed no negative heath problems that could be attributed to cigarettes?

Rarebear's avatar

” I think modifying plants is very different than animals. Don’t you?”

No.

zenvelo's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Yes, we have cross bred plant and animals over the years. But there is a big difference between cross breeding and tinkering with the DNA of a plant or animal. The wonderful thing about cross breeding is it is a controlled bit of breeding in which the offspring must survive to be born. Get a horny stallion and an amorous jenny, next thing you’ve got a mule. Have a flukey honey bee pollinate an apple tree after visiting a pear tree, Lord knows what you’ll get (but I bet it’s tasty!).

But DNA tinkered items are not bred in a natural manner. That’s why an organically grown pluot is considered acceptable, but a round-up resistant corn is not. And no one knows if anything can even digest such corn.

I won’t eat GM salmon.

Rarebear's avatar

Organic food is a luxury of wealthy people.

rojo's avatar

@zenvelo and therein lies the problem. If the industry and the government have their way, you will not know. The only way would be to not eat salmon or raise your own and even then, how would you know whether or not your breeding stock has been cross-contaminated?

Rarebear's avatar

GMO food produces 25% more yield than organic food, and could potentially save millions of people from starving to death.

nicky's avatar

@Rarebear Not to sound too dark, but isnt that a double edge sword? Our population is growing at an unsustainable rate and one reason why is that there is more food available…

Rarebear's avatar

@nicky I don’t understand. Are you saying that we should let people starve to thin the population?

delilah75's avatar

We have to eat in order to survive, in order to survive and eat we need our food source to keep growing. If it helps the world not starve from food deprivation yes I would eat it. I already eat modified corn so why not! Maybe I will grow Gills from it but Salmon is good for you!

nicky's avatar

im not saying we should let people starve. But i dont think GMOs can win that battle alone and I think that the major corporations use that argument too much to hide the potential dangers of modifying the genetic code of the things we eat. I heard in a class once that Monsanto corporation does hardly any clinical tests on mammals before coercing the fda to approve a new product

Rarebear's avatar

@nicky Of course GMOs can’t win the battle alone (see my scientific american link above). You mentioned “hide the potential dangers”. I’m curious to know what dangers you feel are being hidden.

nicky's avatar

@Rarebear its been a few years since my class debates on this subject i’ll read your article and see if I can get your some more concrete data

Rarebear's avatar

@nicky Cool, thanks.

nicky's avatar

@Rarebear so correct me if I am wrong, your article basically outlines the reality that GMO farming is faster and easier with a higher crop yield and therefore a more preferable method of food production so that we can potentially feed more people. I agree with that and i think its a major marketing point of these biotech companies who manufacture these organisms. I also think that we don’t understand enough about the effect that these organisms have on other creatures that consume them. Check this link out: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers

Seek's avatar

@JLeslie No, I don’t see the difference. We’re biologically related to plants as well. Sure, it’s a little further back in the chain, but related nonetheless. It’s all DNA.

I’m trying to think of some place on the planet where you might run into some edible something-or-other that isn’t the product of artificial selection. Maybe some of the less-populated areas of the Amazon or the Australian outback… some of the smaller unpopulated islands in the Pacific… certainly not enough to feed the world.

I simply don’t see the point in slapping a sticker on literally everything that is artificially selected or genetically modified. It’s food. Healthy, nourishing food that is readily available at a low cost. Since I’ve been in the position of wondering where my next meal is coming from, I know better than to whimper about unfounded conspiracy theories.

Kind of like how I want to be a vegetarian, but sometimes I can’t afford to buy fresh vegetables, and it has to be what I can get cheaply and in volume. I try not to eat mammals for the most part.

Also, when was the last time anyone bought a gallon of milk that didn’t have the rGBH-Free label? the 80s? Literally no one in the United States is consuming rGBH from dairy cattle.

antimatter's avatar

Well change is pain! And yes I would probably eat it if I have to, we are already eating GM foods, and sometimes I suspect MacDonalds is selling GM modified food!

nicky's avatar

@zenvelo I totally agree with you that cross breeding and DNA modification are two seperate things. One is allowing the natural order of our planet to decide which organisms will successfully create a new one and the other is taking nature into our own hands and overriding certain biological aspects or restrictions to create new organisms that may have never been allowed to naturally be created

Seek's avatar

Right. We will artificially create new organisms that are large, grow quickly, and are easy to manage.

Kind of like how the tree-huggers (myself included) want us to start planting hemp instead of paper-trees. For the same frakking reasons.

nicky's avatar

is hemp a gmo?

Seek's avatar

For eff’s sake. What isn’t?

Anything labelled “hemp” is artificially selected for a low THC content. So yes.

nicky's avatar

Ya i agree that almost everything now has a genetically modified variant. I am still totally skeptical that these new organism are completely harmless. Can anyone find a human study on the effects of GMOs to humans?

Seek's avatar

I have to wonder why you would presume them harmful. Are they being genetically spliced with opium? No. They’re biologically salmon. They’re just salmon that grow quickly. In fact, they’re probably better for you than farmed salmon that are fed hormone-laced fish food, because they don’t need the chemicals to beef them up. They’re beefy all on their own.

Unbroken's avatar

For chissakes. Genetically engineered food or animals require a lab. Crossbreeding is a form of natural selection that human’s help out in.

The difference is Monumental.

The frankenfish have not been in any long term studies. For safety to human’s or nature. I would not consume these fish. Luckily we have wild caught salmon and the option to fish for ourselves or get it from a local market.

Which will do for now intil the growth hormone altered fish make it into the wild.

At the very least they should be required to have labels. Because no one knows what will happen to long term consumers.

Organic is often mislabeled and over used. But people really can’t afford not to be selective with what they nourish their body with.

Seek's avatar

They aren’t being altered with growth hormones. They are being genetically altered. Not chemically.

We already have chemically altered fish. This is an alternative to that.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Since the companies that do the genetic modifications have resisted any attempts at labeling the modifications that have been made, salmon will become a food that I used to eat.

nicky's avatar

I don’t presume they’re harmful or not harmful; there arent any human trials so nobody knows (isn’t that odd?) I am however trying to not be ignorant of the fact that these new organisms are unique forms of life that would probably not have evolved through any natural process. Studies have at least shown a handful of biological changes to smaller mammals after consuming these genetically modified foods and they don’t seem very positive. Where we can see the effects on a mouse, whose lifespan is much shorter than ours, the effects on a larger mammal such as ourselves may not become apparent for many years due to the fact that the use of GMOs only began sometime in the 90s. Yes more food for cheap is good in the short run, but what if it does cause problems in the future? Look at plastic and its bio-re-activeness alone and we package everything in it. Apologies for the rant, i know this thread is about gmo’d salmon so let me return to that and say that I wholeheartedly believe it should be labeled and I would most definitely avoid it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr @Rarebear I mean in regards to altering a living thing that has some awareness that it is alive, pain, will to live, etc. I don’t mean in terms of consuming it, I mean feeling free to alter an animal. It depends on how we are doing the altering whether I am ok or not. If we try to fence in certain types of cows so they reproduce more like them, then ok, but I don’t like that we inseminate cows and keep them constantly pregnant.

I have absolutely no problem with my honey crisp apples that were created at the University of Minnesota, except that lately some of the ones I bough taste like chemicals. I wish I had taken note of the farm they come from so I don’t make the mistake again.

Rarebear's avatar

@nicky Just catching up here. The link you provided doesn’t say much except for unsubstantiated claims. To say that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” means nothing. What were the studies? How were they designed? What was the bias? What were the results? What was the sample size? What was the power? Did they eliminate Type 1 and Type 2 statistical error? Were they blinded?

I’m happy to review any study that has scientific validity. But websites claiming this and that, especially when there is bias, don’t mean much to a science based medicine skeptic like me.

@JLeslie ” I mean in regards to altering a living thing that has some awareness that it is alive, pain, will to live, etc.” You mean as opposed to leading them to a slaughterhouse? Any animal you eat experienced pain when they died.

rojo's avatar

GM salmon get away and the 5% that are still fertile breed with wild, unmodified fish. New fish grow faster, bigger and in less time than normal fish. In doing so they out-compete said fish eating up the limited food resources before the normal fish can get to them and eventually replacing them in the food chain. This causes a disruption in the chain, the fish are no longer going up the streams to breed at the time of year they usually do so they are not present when the bears and other animals that depend on them need them. In the case of the bears, they can no longer build up their body weight prior to hibernation so most die out over the winter, eventually reaching a point where there is no longer a viable breeding population. The small mammals that normally make up the majority of the bears meat diet have no natural predators left to keep their numbers in check and so overpopulate their environment decimating their own food sources. And so forth and so on.

And, woe be unto anyone who then takes those fish and tries to open their own fishery. THOSE fish belong to the company that modified them in the first place because of their genetic makeup. Lawsuits galore al-la Monsanto and their GM crops that contaminate the crops of farmers who choose not to participate and do not have the monetary resources to fight the behemoth.

nicky's avatar

@Rarebear alright i’ll do some digging, some of my classmates were responsible for researching this i had a different project in the class and just took away an overview of what they found out. It was really interesting, especially when I found out that Monsanto used to be a weapons manufacturer and responsible for Agent Orange
@rojo So you’re talking about the ecological effects that this new salmon could have if that 5% were to intermix with the current salmon population in the wild. That is unsettling and ya the lawsuits about their patented life??! wow

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear The slaughtering bothers me. It makes me want to be a vegetarian, but I am not one. But, the slaughtering is a short time in their life, I don’t want their entire life to be horrible because humans are dabbeling in these matters. I don’t eat veal because of how so many farmes treat the baby calves. I also think we don’t always know what will really happen in the future as we alter things.

I am pissed someone approved bringing killer bees into our country. The fish that are destroying some of our ecosystems (I can’t remember the name of the fish) now there are worries they will get into our Great Lakes. The Kudzu vines from Japan are covering our forrests. It is all over where I live. And, as I mentioned above chickens that have distorted bodies.

Rarebear's avatar

@nicky You don’t have to, it’s okay. I’m just saying that in order to convince me, I need more than website claims.

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie What makes you think that animals suffer because they are genetically modified? Also, as far as I know, nobody approved killer bees. They just migrated north.

nicky's avatar

@Rarebear No worries im not getting all OCD on it ive looked stuff up before on this heres a more scientific look at the effects of 3 types of corn. They did show changes to certain organs and they also said that it varied by sex and the type of gmo because they are all different. It also noted that the pesticides used are a big grey area because we just havent been consuming them long enough? here it is I’m curious to hear what you think about it http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm

nicky's avatar

@Rarebear the major thing I take away from this and information ive read elsewhere is that yes there are biological effects on mammals, but not enough research is being done. I believe @rojo mentioned this in the original question about all the money being spent to avoid it

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear My mistake, the bees did migrate from South America to North America, but it was a scientist in Brazil if I remember correctly who purposely brought the bee over from Africa to breed, or crossbreed with other bees. I think it was because the bees would produce more honey, maybe there were other reasons also.

Rarebear's avatar

@nicky “Only 10 rats were measured per group for blood and urine parameters and served as the basis for the major statistical analyses conducted.”

This is what I’m talking about. Bad science used to make claims that are not in support of the evidence. If it were 1000 rats, then I’d pay attention. But 10 rats is an example of extremely poor statistical planning. Sorry, if you want to do digging, you’re going to have to do better than this.

Unbroken's avatar

I found this interesting.

Seems that the pressure to increase output overrode all other concerns.

As a side note I connected the mutabilty of the human genome. I will admit this is a leap as science filled in the gaps yet. But I find it concerning enough to inconvenience myself not to eat GE products. I have enough health problems already. It was a difficult switch from just eat what ever to my current diet, but I wish I had done it years earlier

Rarebear's avatar

@rosehips The first study you linked to was basically a questionnaire. The second study you linked to has nothing to do with GMOs.

flo's avatar

I woudn’t it eat it if I can help it. Why would there be all that effort to prevent labelling? Mark Bittman I think has written an article about it in early January or late Decmber maybe, that I have yet to find and read.

JLeslie's avatar

@flo Well, I do think some of the effort to prevent labeling is because some people will overreact to the labeling. I am not sure exavtly what qualifies as genetically modified, but I have a feeling many people would be ok with certain types of genetic modification, but just seeing a label they won’t have the details.

flo's avatar

Instead of the ridiculous and insulting “the pulic would overreact” excuse, they would spend a fraction of the $45 million that they spent fighting it, providing the details.

Unbroken's avatar

@Rarebear Not exactly it was a theoretical analysis of futures of ocean farming. Scenario’s and that is my point. They don’t have any idea as to how this will effect the world including; humans, ecology, or the market really although the market was quite obviously the primary concern.

The second link was thinly related by me. The process of gene insertion in the lab penetrates the structure of genome. That is how it works they don’t slice and dice them together. I am not claiming I can prove that the gm’s we eat penetrate our gene’s but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

@flo It was actually $47 to $48 million in California but yeah agreed.

JLeslie's avatar

@flo I think you just called me ridiculous. I am not saying the public doesn’t have the right to know. I also am guessing, but really do not know the answer, that farmers can label their products “not genetically modified” if they want to.

flo's avatar

I called the ones who spent the $45 million against labelling claiming the public would overreact ridiculous.
Yes the farmers can and would if they have to but it is only the GMO people have something to hide.
If the air is clean enough there is no need to announce that, it is on the days that it is too polluted that they need to announce it, as an example.

flo's avatar

@rosehips Mind blowing isn’t it?

Unbroken's avatar

@flo Not really, just frustrating and scary.
Here this might cheer you up, it begins

flo's avatar

Thanks for that link.
“Mind blowing” applies to something good?

Unbroken's avatar

I think so : )

JLeslie's avatar

@flo But, I am saying the public might overreact, even though above I have stated I have some problems with some modifications.

What do you mean the farmers can and would if they have to? I am saying farmers can put on packages now that products are not genetically modified if they want. Or, is that illegal?

flo's avatar

It is about the Obfuscation.

rojo's avatar

@JLeslie
Respectfully, I disagree. A farmer, rancher or fisherman should not have to label something as “natural”. We should be able to assume that if it is not labeled has not been tampered with,
Only when you change something should you then be responsible for informing people that you have done so.

flo's avatar

BTW, the “public might overreact”, excuse, let’s see, what else should use that kind of logic about?

mattbrowne's avatar

Eventually, perhaps, if engineered food truly solves major problems instead of being a vehicle for making obscene profits for a few privileged people.

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