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Souped-up salmon.

No genetically modified salmon are on the market today, but Aqua Bounty, a biotech company from Waltham, Massachusetts, has applied for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to produce genetically modified Atlantic salmon that can grow five times faster than genuine salmon. The company claims its salmon eat 10 to 25 percent less than ordinary farmed salmon and can reduce aquaculture's demand for feed. If FDA gives its apporval, these super-fish could appear in stores as soon as 2004.

A panel of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences recently rated genetically modified fish a 'moderate' concern from the perspective of human health--they were concerned about the possibility of consumers having allergic reactions to introduced proteins. The panel was much more concerned about the wide-ranging ecological effects of fast-growing fish should they escape into the wild. With their accelerated growth rates, such fish might quickly out-compete salmon in the wild, even if they are less able to survive long-term.

Sharing such concerns, the states of Washington and Oregon have banned genetically altered fish in order to protect native fish. West Coast commercial fisherman are pushing California to ban genetically altered fish as well. "We cannot seem to contain genetically modified corn or wheat. So what happens when these fish get out in the wild?" asks Zeke Grader of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations.

Much of the aquaculture industry itself, including the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers, is against the use of this controversial technology. Struan Stevenson, Scottish Member of the European Parliament and long-time aquaculture booster, opposes introducing genetically modified fish on the grounds that it would cause consume demand to collapse. " Public opinion is against GMOs," says Stevenson, "and right or wrong, we must listen to public opinion. They are our customers."
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Title Annotation:Aqua Bounty looks for approval for genetically modified salmon
Publication:World Watch
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
Words:298
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