Skepticism About Biotechnology Isn’t Anti-Science
“Keep Frankenfish off my Dish!” a protester’s sign read. Another, adorned with six red hearts, suggested that “real people love real salmon.” A couple of years ago, protests against the approval and sale of genetically modified salmon targeted the Food and Drug Administration and supermarket chains across the country, attempting to halt the approval and sale of the AquAdvantage salmon—an Atlantic salmon modified with DNA from the Chinook salmon and the ocean pout. The borrowed genetic material lets the fish grow year-round and reach market size in half the time as its natural counterpart, but it’s also spurred passionate public debate.
In November 2015, the FDA approved the AquAdvantage salmon as the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption. According to the hype, the AquAdvantage salmon could help with reducing global hunger, decreasing the carbon footprint of aquaculture (the cultivation of fish and other aquatic life), and shoring up dwindling wild fish stock. The regulatory process behind the approval of the AquAdvantage salmon took almost 20 years.