The genes of salmon, like any living thing, can now be mapped and, to some extent, manipulated. Where food production is concerned, genetically modified salmon present some big opportunities for fish farmers. Salmon that are modified in this way grow much faster than normal. This is because of how the fish’s growth genes are altered.
The salmon that are produced in this way also have genes from other, related animals added to their own. In the case of these fish, the growth hormone gene from another species of salmon and what amounts to an on/off gene from a trout are added. These keep the fish growing in conditions where their own genes would normally tell them to stop. The end result: really big salmon in a really short amount of time, sometimes years shorter than the norm.
Salmon grown in this way have been dubbed “Frankenfish” by those opposed to genetically modified foods. There are many food safety organizations around the world that are still without a formal decision on the safety of these salmon for sale at the grocery store and fish markets. For salmon producers, these fish mean a lot more money in their pockets and a lot more production on their farms.
For consumers, there is still a lot of discomfort with the idea of salmon that are modified so specifically and whether or not there are health risks that are presented from the modification process.
To date, there have been no significant health effects shown to result from these fish and the fish have not been shown to be harmed by it. In the end, it is down to your choice as a consumer whether or not to include ‘Frankenfish’ in their next family dinner.