I am a farmer. I have grown Atlantic salmon for the last 30 years. Salmon matter to me and I care about their welfare, the environment in which we grow them and all of the good people that work in our company.
As the FDA hears arguments for and against genetically modified salmon, the lack of vehement opposition from Environmental Non Governmental Organizations (ENGOs) seems unimpressive, even apathetic.
On the practice of aquaculture, NGOs have screamed wolf from the roof-tops to every government department and every willing ear. Yet now, now when we need them most, their voice is muted and little heard. A few demonstrations and a few quotes across the world seem all that they can muster. But this is the way of today. Corporations know that the way to play the NGOs and the public is to drip-feed bad news.
By the time that the final decision has been made, the public is bored of seeing the word 'Frankenfish.' The NGOs screamed themselves hoarse at the first mention and so now can sit back saying that they tried, but it is such an unfair world. But it really isn't good enough. These groups live in the public imagination because it is perceived that they exist to save the world, and to do this they have to raise issues of great significance to all our futures.
Well, heads up guys, this one really matters:
Why is it now practically impossible to buy GM-free soy (100 percent pure)? We all know why.
Scientists said it wouldn't escape their control. It did. Now people are contemplating growing GM salmon in 'secure' farms. Let me leave you in no doubt -- they will escape.
They will escape because we will let them, by allowing dilution of control with time. No one plans for the apathy and carelessness that comes with time. People lose interest. It's just the way it works.
When you look for the morality or reasoning behind GM salmon, it becomes much murkier. The only reasons for potentially destroying an entire species are cost and commercial gain.
No, I don't mean the cost to the environment or the human race but purely the cost of food to the consumer. The food conversion rate (food to fish ratio) is much the same. The impact on the environment is the same or worse. The only thing that improves is labor cost through faster growth. All this really means is lower employment and cheaper food.
Once cheap GM salmon are out there, the corporations will be 'forced' to use it in order to remain competitive. And where will they go to buy their GM stock? Back to that crew that invented it. (Doesn't it sound horrible to use the word invent alongside animal?)
Here you have the real reason behind its development. Forget all the theorizing about feeding the developing world -- the GM industry is about inventing animals or plants whose genetic structure is owned by a corporation.
For the record I abhor the introduction of this concept, let alone its actual production. It is fundamentally wrong and there is no argument about 'secure' farming or sterile fish will ever make me believe that GM salmon is right, useful or profitable for the human race or the planet.
It is sheer unbridled greed at the expense of my children and grandchildren and I object.
I object as an 'expert' in my field.
I object as someone that has huge respect for salmon.
I object as a citizen of this planet.
I object mostly because I have to. I cannot sit idly by, while the way of life that I cherish is defiled.
Once the FDA approves GM salmon for human consumption, the floodgates will be open. It is not just about salmon. Other GM animals will be invented. Scientists in corporate labs are working on it now. They will argue that if a GM animal is safe to eat, then it is imperative that we grow it, and so we will face a horrific new dawn.
Every person that reads this and agrees with it should write to their senator, any opinion former they know, their local paper or any media outlet. This whole sorry matter is a disgrace to salmon farming, humanity and moral food production.
Nick Joy is Managing Director of Loch Duart, an independent salmon farm in Northwest Scotland.
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