Wild Salmon may take a backseat to Genetically Modified AquaAdvantage Salmon. Take a look at what that might mean for the people eating it.

A few days ago it was announced that the Food and Drug Administration in the US has approved genetically modified salmon safe for human consumption. This is the first genetically modified creature which will become actual food for actual humans. There are several sources of information for this – google and ye shall find.

AquaAdvantage Salmon, as this super fish is known, is produced by the AquaBounty Technologies company. It has been engineered to grow much larger and much faster than your average Atlantic salmon, by use of a growth hormone some reports say is from a fast growing eel-type fish.  Reports also say that it is currently being produced on land, in tanks in the Panama Mountains.

Needless to say,  those who have produced it seem damn sure it will not enter the wild fish chain (Unless it grows legs and and decides to walk to the nearest river, or so we would be led to believe.)  And even if these fish did escape, by some chance, and start frolicking in the surf with their wild counterparts, they can’t possibly reproduce, can they? Because get this – they are all sterile females. Is anyone else getting worried yet?

The phrase ‘What fresh hell is this?’ springs to mind, to quote American poet Dorothy Parker. Which incidentally, was the phrase she used each time she was interrupted while writing, by  the telephone or the door bell ringing. Well thank you Dorothy, because what fresh hell, indeed, is this for the food industry?

We still remember a conversation with anti GM campaigner and Good Food Ireland accomplished cheesemaker Kate Carmody, of Beal Farmhouse Organic Cheese. Kate is also an experienced Bio-Chemist, one of several generations of scientists in her family.  Her take on GM, in that conversation of a few years ago, was that not enough research had been done for us to be absolutely certain what the long term effects are on humans eating GM foods, and when a science is not used with sufficient knowledge, it becomes bad science. 

Kate’s dairy farm, which produces milk for her cheeses, is an organic GM free farm. Kate has worked consistently with Irish governmental bodies for a GM free Ireland. She is a pro-active campaigner for the organic movement and involved regularly with Slow Food Ireland She’s not just a food luvvie who is trying to make some noise, Kate has the scientific expertise to know what she’s talking about. We should listen.

As we always do when these kinds of stories break, we stress how very important it is to know exactly where your food is coming from and how it is grown, farmed or produced.  In Ireland, Wild Atlantic Salmon is in season for only a few short weeks a year, when it is allowed to be fished in rivers where stocks are deemed viable. Wild salmon is no longer caught at sea by commercial salmon fishermen, since the ban in 2007. Wild Salmon caught in Irish rivers are tagged and recorded then sold by reputable fishmongers like O’Connell’s in the English Market and Ballycotton Seafoods, to name a couple. The short season makes wild salmon an absolute treat, grown the way nature intended, full of flavour and texture from prolific feeding and swimming in Atlantic waters.  

Atlantic Salmon are also farmed here, off the West Coast, in deep sea tanks where Atlantic currents create conditions akin to what the fish would have in the wild. Organic farmed salmon from Clare Island just off the coast of Co. Mayo, is used by Good Food Ireland producers like Ummera Smokehouse, Burren Smokehouse and Connemara Smokehouse, plus some of our chefs who serve it on their menus. Hopefully, the GM AquaAdvantage Salmon will never reach our shores.

Picture from Good Food Ireland Members Kendals Restaurant at Mount Juliet