Frankenfish. It’s What’s for Dinner.

It is at no concern to most Americans when the topic of genetically modified organisms is brought up. There are tons of items on the market today that are genetically modified, yet people continue to buy them. Thinking of genetically engineered foods solely as fruits and vegetables makes the GE food not seems as intimidating, or disgusting. Will people become more aware of GMOs when they hear about GE animals? Some animals, for example cows, are injected with hormones so that they can produce more milk. That is pretty bad to think about, but at least after the hormone injection the cow is still a cow, right?

Under the Sea

The term Frankenfish was created to describe the GE Alaskan salmon. These salmon are a product of three different fish genes and DNA. Now, this may bring a few more people into the negative light of GMOs. Especially since after the genetic modification, the fish is no longer a fish, but a Frankenfish.

Frankenfish is not just a name meaning to deface the company, Aquabounty, that created these monsters. This term completely depicts the physically deformities that can occur when you mix the genes of different fish. Not to mention what may happen if a GE fish and a non-GE fish mate. Although this has not happened yet, many scientists believe this interbreeding could create severe deformities in the offspring or completely wipe out the fish all together. Unfortunately, the FDA has pushed aside the obvious evidence of GMO salmon having physical deformities, stating the deformities were “within the range of rapid growth phenotypes of non-genetically engineered Alaskan salmon.” Basically, the FDA ruled the deformities out of the equation because even natural fish could have deformities. Just because it happened to the GMO salmon, does not mean it could not happen in nature, so no big deal.

Something’s Fishy

Not only is the name Frankenfish sketchy, but also is the way these fish get approved by the FDA. The FDA allows Aquabounty to test the safety of the fish for human consumption inside the Aquabounty walls. Not only did Aquabounty test the company’s fish, but also Aquabounty did not even test enough fish to get an accurate amount of data to compare with natural fish.  Also, the FDA did not require Aquabounty to submit information concerning how the fish will be commercially produced. In other words, us, as consumers, know nothing of this foreign fish from Panama, yet we are expected to be okay with that and eat the Frankenfish anyway.

Nutritious and Delicious or Poisonous and Malicious

Health is always of concern as of late with Americans. With this new Frankenfish comes a swarm of health issues, for the humans consuming the fish and for the fish itself. First and foremost, GMO salmon (Frankenfish), have 40% more IGF-1, a hormone that prohibits programmed cellular death. This hormone has been linked as an accessory to cancer because of its capability to rapidly grow tissue. Primarily, IGF-1 is linked to prostate, breast, and colon cancer in humans. Also, the Frankenfish is just plain not as nutritional for us as we would like fish to be. Fish is supposed to be a great protein for humans, yet Frankenfish ranked the lowest in the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of salmon tested by the FDA.

Nowadays, almost everyone has some sort of food allergy; from peanuts to chocolate, and everything in between. With the creation of the Frankenfish, so comes the creation of even more food borne allergens. The allergic potencies embedded in the Frankenfish are anywhere from 20% to 52% higher than a natural salmon. This higher level of allergens could lead to an increased risk of death from allergic reactions.

Endangered and Struggling

What about the non-GMO salmon? Will they survive? The answer to these questions is unclear. Though scientists would love to say the GMO salmon would not affect the non-GMO salmon, this is a fallacy. The wild Alaskan salmon are already an endangered species. Producing GMO Alaskan salmon will only allow this species to die out even more rapidly. The wild Alaskan salmon have an ongoing battle with an international mining company, Anglo-America. Now, these wild fish have to battle with the Frankenfish as well. It truly does not make sense to have more genetically engineered fish than wild, natural fish. Would it not make more sense to protect the endangered fish to preserve the fish and our healthy consumption of the fish? Apparently government and FDA do not believe this.

Frankenfish is not a pleasant name, nor is it a pleasant sight due to deformities caused by transgenic genes. So, naturally, consumers would not want this fish on their dinner plates. Not only would consumers not want to feed themselves Frankenfish, but also consumers would not be able to allow their families, their children, to eat this fish. With the links Frankenfish has to cancer and lack of nutrition, it seems like a no-brainer to just eat natural Alaskan salmon. For the sake of the endangered salmon, the poor Frankenfish that do not have a choice in the matter, and for the consumers, America needs to think, truly think, about the long term effects GMO salmon can have instead of the short term gain.

-Destini Lawrence

Works Consulted

Cummins, Ronnie. “10 Freakiest Things About Frankenfish.” The Huffington Post. Huffingtonpost.com, 23 Sept. 2010. Web. 5 Nov. 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronnie-cummins/10-freakiest-things-about_b_737267.html#s180751&title=10_Frankenfish_Arent

“GMO Salmon- What’s the Deal with Frankenfish?” Genetically Modified Food News. Geneticallymodifiedfoodnews.com. Web. 5 Nov. 2011. http://geneticallyengineeredfoodnews.com/gmo-salmon-whats-the-deal-with-frankenfish 

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