It’s alive! Frankenfish!

It’s alive!

It’s alive!

A genetically engineered salmon is now poised and pacing behind the iron gate of federal food restrictions. But if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lets it loose into the marketplace of America, environmentalists assure it will bring trouble to the world’s remaining wild salmon populations.

The fish is trademarked as AquAdvantage, the name coined by its creator, AquaBounty Technologies in Massachusetts. Here, genetic engineers created the animal by enhancing an Atlantic salmon with a growth hormone from a chinook salmon. The product: a salmon that grows two times as fast as those naturally occurring—and with no need for any more rivers. The FDA is now considering approving the fish as a food product.

Environmentalists foresee trouble if the fish, which they’ve nicknamed “Frankenfish,” escapes into the wild. A leading concern is that constant availability of salmon reared in a lab facility will undercut conservation campaigns aimed at preserving wild salmon habitat.

In another scenario, escaped fish might find themselves in wild salmon country—even competing in the race to reproduce. If the fish—which AquaBounty says will all be infertile females—interject sterile eggs into the ancient cycle of in-river spawning, entire generations of wild salmon could be aborted.

At Greenpeace USA, senior markets campaigner Casson Trenor hopes the FDA kills the Frankenfish. He noted that naturally occurring invasive species have already proven devastating enough to many of the globe’s ecosystems.

“And now we’re creating animals, making them bigger, stronger,” he said.

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, recognizing that Frankenfish fillets could soon be available at local markets and restaurants, has authored legislation, Assembly Bill 88, which if passed into law would require fish vendors to clearly identify genetically engineered salmon for the benefit of consumers.

AquaBounty reps have said they oppose the bill, evidently wishing that consumers might buy and eat salmon made in a lab and not even know it. That, after all, might be the only way the Frankenfish would sell.