Salmon eggs at the AquaBounty hatchery in Prince Edward Island, Canada (AP)

Salmon eggs at the AquaBounty hatchery in Prince Edward Island, Canada (AP)

Peter Bowyer points out a newly hatched Atlantic salmon alevin among the first batch of AquaBounty eggs in an incubation tray. (AP)

Peter Bowyer points out a newly hatched Atlantic salmon alevin among the first batch of AquaBounty eggs in an incubation tray. (AP)

AquaBounty’s nursery tank building in Albany, Indiana (AP)

AquaBounty’s nursery tank building in Albany, Indiana (AP)

Salmon fry swim round and round in a nursery tank. (AP)

Salmon fry swim round and round in a nursery tank. (AP)

A juvenile salmon being raised at an AquaBounty hatchery (AP)

A juvenile salmon being raised at an AquaBounty hatchery (AP)

Something Fishy

Posted: September 3, 2019

There’s something fishy going on. Fast-growing salmon fill tanks at a fish farm in Indiana. Wait! Salmon don’t grow quickly. It takes three years for them to mature to full size. These fish are growing twice that fast!

What speeds their growth? Their DNA has been changed. DNA is like a computer code for living cells. It tells cells exactly what to do. Scientists have injected salmon eggs with DNA from faster-growing fish. The changed code tells the salmon cells to grow faster than normal. It works. The eggs hatch into tiny fish. As soon as next year, restaurants could serve the new super salmon.

AquaBounty is the first company to produce genetically engineered salmon—salmon with tweaked DNA. It takes less food to grow super salmon to the same size as regular salmon. That saves money as well as time. Is there anything else different about the modified fish? According to Sylvia Wulf, AquaBounty’s CEO, “It’s identical to Atlantic salmon, with the exception of one gene.” How much difference does one gene make? “A lot!” say some people.

AquaBounty officials want to market their fish in the United States. U.S. authorities just approved genetically modified fish sales. But not everyone is happy about that. Officials at Whole Foods and Kroger vow not to sell the modified fish.

It’s getting easier to produce and sell genetically modified plants and animals. Most corn and soy sold in the United States is modified in some way. But modifying an animal is a whole new can of worms (or can of salmon). On one side, people argue that messing around with the genes of salmon interferes with God’s design. And they ask if eating it might be harmful. On the other side, people say genetically modified salmon might be a blessing. It could be a way God has provided for us to produce more food faster and at less cost. Do you think super salmon is a super idea?