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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

GMO Atlantic Salmon, One Alaskan's View

So one of the big topics this week is the GMO Atlantic Salmon or 'Frankenfish' as it has started to be called. For those of you who haven't heard this fish has been 'genetically modified' by Aqua Bounty Farms Inc. (feel free to follow the link and tell them what you think :P )to grow twice as fast as natural Atlantic Salmon. They claim that the fish is perfectly safe and this claim is currently under investigation by the FDA but to be honest looks like its heading for approval.

So what does this mean for Alaska?

As most Alaskans will tell you the commercial fishing industry is a major source of income for many Alaskan families. For other Alaskans it is a source of food and yet others still a great sport. I prefer fishing for silvers myself, although not as large as the kings I enjoy being able to fish for more than 1 a day (the current limit on kings).

Regardless, how is this new fish going to affect Alaskans? Well simple economics say the price of Alaskan salmon will go down. However, I am not so sure. The current law DISALLOWS (so you can't do it) a product from claiming that it is 100% natural non-GMO. If this were to be changed and Alaskan Salmon (and others) could be marketed as 100% non-GMO I think it would actually improve the product and give us a new market that never existed before. Even if the GMO 'Frankenfish' is perfectly safe there will still be a large number of people who will never trust it and never want anything to do with it.

I'm not saying there will be no impact on our commercial fishing but this should make the conservationists happy as it will bring demand down (slightly). Of course this price drop is only assuming that Aqua Bounty doesn't price their fish accordingly. There is still going to be a cost associated with developing this product and of course with growing and marketing it.

Additionally there will be almost no market for sport fishing these fish as they will all be farm grown and kept in pins as to insure they never escape into the wild.

Personally I see this as an opportunity for Alaska to promote the Alaskan Salmon as a pure natural alternative. So it won't be used in low end products (which is what I imagine the GMO alternative will be used for), but this has been the domain of red salmon (often considered the least desirable) for decades now.

Please feel free to comment and leave feedback, and better yet feel free to contact the GMO Salmon company at the link above. If you've already followed that link and still feel feisty here is the link to the FDA Contact Site, tell them what you think.

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