Aquabounty is poised to become the first U.S. company to sell genetically modified fish, according to the AP. They are also the first company to seek Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to market a genetically modified animal raised specifically for human consumption.
The Aquabounty salmon, nicknamed “Frankenfish” by Rep. Don Young of Alaska, has been genetically modified to grow twice as fast as normal so it can make it to market, and your dinner plate, much more quickly.
The science behind genetically modified organisms (GMO) is not new. Genetically modified crops, such as corn, cotton, and soybeans account for most of those crops grown in the U.S., according to the National Academies of Sciences. Genetically modified animals are not new either, and some of them are quite bizarre, according to Mother Nature News.
In 2007, South Korean scientists created glow-in-the-dark cats. What is the point, other than not tripping over your cat in the dark? The scientists claim that being able to engineer fluorescent cats will enable them to artificially create animals with human genetic diseases.
In 2000, Nexia Biotechnologies announced its researchers had inserted spider’s dragline silk genes into goat DNA so that the goats would make silk protein in their milk. The “silk milk” could then be used to make a web-like material called Biosteel.
An environmentally-friendly swine known as the Enviropig, (or”Frankenswine,” as critics call it) is genetically altered to better digest and process phosphorus, which eliminates the problem of too much phosphorus entering the watershed when the pig’s manure is used as fertilizer.
The Tel Aviv researcher who brought the world featherless chickens claims the bird can better withstand the heat in Israel and will not have the slow-down in growth that occurs in feathered birds when the temperature rises.
According to a recent report on Sky News, Chinese scientists have created a herd of 300 dairy cows genetically modified to produce human breast milk. The milk is still undergoing government testing, but the researchers hope to have it on stores shelves within three years.
Just because we can create these unusual creatures, does that mean we should?
There are some in the scientific community concerned about the wisdom of tinkering with the genes of living animals. The technology is too new to know for certain what problems might occur from consuming animals or products from animals whose DNA is not quite their own. Environmental groups and researchers are also concerned about what might happen if the genetically modified animals breed with non-GMO animals.
For more information on genetically modified plants and animals: www.NBCNews.com; www.mnn.com; www.fda.gov.; www.gawker.com