What is a Franken Fish? It’s the term many people use for genetically modified fish. Many people aren’t aware of the possible health risks of eating this type of food. Currently, genetically engineered foods are limited to vegetables such as soy, corn, alfalfa, cotton, papaya, and squash, but that may be changing in the near future to include fish from sources such as Aqua Bounty .
Aqua Bounty: Aqua Bounty states on their website that, “They use biotechnology to improve aquaculture productivity.” What this means is they want to speed up how quickly fish grow and reproduce. While fish that grow faster could feed more people, let’s consider the possibility that Aqua Bounty is also interested in profit. Currently, genetically engineered foods are mainly used to feed livestock but trace amounts do show up in processed foods that are consumed by humans. While there are still hurdles to overcome, according to INH Health Watch, a salmon has already been bred that grows twice as fast a non modified salmon.
Why Is Anyone Worried? You may be wondering why people are concerned about genetically modified food sources. Do you remember what everyone referred to as “killer wheat?” It was a strain of wheat that was genetically modified to be extremely hardy.The wheat had supposedly died out when a farmer found it years later in his field (he had never even planted the wheat). The story was all over the news. Many nations will not accept imported genetically altered foods for various reasons; one of which is a lack of studies concerning short term and long term effects.
Doctor Michael Hansen, says that, “The FDA set the bar low.” This means that the bar will be set low for the future concerning engineered foods. Aqua Bounty has conducted studies on the fish it has engineered, but many people think the studies were sub par. The study only used small samples (73 fish) and reported that they found no growth hormone in the fish. That may sound good but what it really means is that we have no studies about the amount of growth hormone we would be ingesting. Is it possible that Aqua Bounty is interested in profit over safety? It wouldn’t be the first time a company has done this. Coke and Pepsi were selling us Aquafina and Dasani, leading us to believe it was from some cool mountain spring or glacier, when in fact it was tap water. Growth hormone is almost always found in milk in the supermarket.
Is Growth Hormone Safe? There are many studies done on using growth hormone in animals, although often the companies themselves conduct the studies and the FDA bases it’s findings on these tests. Scary isn’t it? According to Cornell University, Canada and many European nations do not allow hormones that the U.S. uses everyday in food sources. The point of using the growth hormones is to make the animal grow in half as much time, increasing supply, and obviously ensuring a greater profit. Studies to date are inconclusive in the United States, although other countries have banned such practices because their studies have shown that human consumption of growth hormone is detrimental to health.
Another concern that many environmentalists have is for wildlife. If these genetically engineered fish are bred and released into the wild, either purposefully or accidentally, what will the repercussions on other wildlife be?
Many consumers refuse to eat anything that is made with genetically modified ingredients because the health risks aren’t clear at this point. I am one of those people. Perhaps one day, human beings will be genetically modified as well? It sounds like a novel by H.G. Wells, but it seems it may come to pass and sooner than we might think.
Scary Studies: INH Health also states, that a second smaller study of only six fish showed a level of 40 percent higher growth factor than a natural salmon. Even worse, this particular hormone IGF-1 has been linked to multiple cancers. The Franken Fish also had the lowest omegas in ratio to the natural salmon. Many people eat fish mainly for the Omega 3 and 6. Furthermore, the study showed that the genetically altered fish have a chance of causing an allergic reaction that is 20-52 percent higher than that of wild salmon. Yummy! That’s so tempting Aqua Bounty but I think I’ll pass. Not all genetically modified foods are required to include that they are altered on the label. Growing your own garden never sounded so good.
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