A Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon Lurking

June 9, 2012 By: Benjamin Clary

An aquaculture start-up specializing in genetically engineered salmon is having a hard time explaining the disappearance of a large stock of fish.  In 2008 AquaBounty Technologies sent a letter to investors letting them know that a stock of genetically engineered salmon housed in Panama was wiped out due to “an unusually severe storm.”  However, according to Ari Levaux of Outside magazine, while there were storms in Panama during that period, none were out of the ordinary. 

Farmed raised fish threaten wild fish through the spread of disease (as seen recently in the outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anemia in British Columbia) and, more relevant to this particular incident, through interbreeding, which weakens the gene pool of wild fish stocks.  Currently AquaCulture’s operation has not been given FDA approval.  U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (Dem-AK), with the support of his counterpart Sen. Lisa Murkowski, has introduced a bill to prevent the operation.