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November 26, 2014

Don Young Will Break You

Guess what, boys and girls? The Food and Drug Administration just announced that a genetically modified, farmed Atlantic-Pacific salmon-eel hybrid (also known as the Frankenfish) is perfectly safe for human consumption! Mmmmmm. Anyone want some Farmed-genetically-modified-Atlantic-Pacific-salmon-eel-hybrid dip on a cracker? Come on, don’t be shy. It’s perrrrfectly fine. The government says so.

Ah, the gubmint. Alaska conservatives’ entity of choice when it comes to a target for hurling bile is the Environmental Protection Agency. But with the FDA, Alaska’s bipartisan congressional delegation comes together in a big bile-hurling kumbaya.

“The notion that consuming Frankenfish is safe for the public and our oceans is a joke,” Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said in a statement Friday. “I will fight tooth and nail with my Alaska colleagues to make sure consumers have a clear choice when it comes to wild and sustainable versus lab-grown science projects. . . . Today’s report is by no means the final say on this issue.”

That’s pretty in-your-face aggressive for Senator Begich. But giving consumers a “choice” implies that the frankenfish is actually going to be on shelves and available for purchase. And “fighting tooth and nail” is downright gentlemanly compared to the rhetoric coming from the Congressman for All Alaska. This is one of those rare moments when we love Don Young. It’s always fun when rabid is on your side, instead of fighting against you, or just being embarrassing.

“You keep those damn fish out of my waters. It will ruin what I think is one of the finest products in the world,” (Congressman Don) Young said in an interview, saying he fears that the spread of fish farms could eventually contaminate the wild salmon industry in Alaska. He wants to force delays in any FDA approval.

“If I can keep this up long enough, I can break that company,” he said, referring to AquaBounty, “and I admit that’s what I’m trying to do.”

don_young_ap_slide

You listening AquaBounty? Don Young will break you, and your damn fish too. And don’t think he won’t.

The “damn fish” actually has a name – it’s called the AquAdvantage. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? “Salmon” is so passé.

salmon-460x360

Frankenfish in the rear, salmon in front.

The AquAdvantage fish will be egged in Canada, and then it will be transported south, and harvested somewhere in Panama, with “little chance” of the probably sterile, mostly all female CanaPanamanian gigantor escaping into the wild.

Beyond Alaska, and its stake in wild seafood, there is a bigger picture. Never before has the government allowed genetically modified animals to grace our dinner plates. Granted, we’ve had genetically modified veggies galore, but not meat. Remember a few years ago when the right got their knickers in a knot over evil leftist scientists who wanted to mess around with stem cells, which would engender moral decay, and the eventual creation of “human-animal hybrids?” The ethics of gene splicing was all the rage back then. Don’t mess with God’s creation, you heathen scientists!  Not sure where all those people are now. They’re probably too busy trying to militarize our elementary schools for safety.

Let’s hope Senator Begich is right, and that this isn’t the final say. At least it’s an issue that can bring all Alaskans together.

Comments

comments

Comments
16 Responses to “Don Young Will Break You”
  1. Erin says:

    I’m not going to lie; I am sometimes confused by the way people seem to fear and despise GMOs. I can understand safety concerns, although I wonder if those aren’t blown out of proportion sometimes.
    The AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon with ONE GENE transferred over from the Chinook salmon that allows for faster and larger growth (according to Wikipedia, AquaBounty’s website, and an ABC story). Chinook salmon are perfectly edible, so it seems reasonable to conclude that the protein product coded for by this gene is safe for us to ingest. Why does eating this seem like a risk?
    I can understand concerns about the fish escaping into the wild (although I have to wonder if their larger size might make them LESS fit to survive, rather than more fit.) I can also understand if people are worried about industrial ramifications- a more plentiful product that is cheaper and faster to produce does sound like a winning formula that could decimate competition. On the other hand, food that can be produced cheaply, quickly, and in large quantities is something the world sorely needs!
    If there is an aspect of this debate that I’ve not considered, please tell me so! As I mentioned, I don’t understand a lot of the objections to GMOs, and another person’s perspective never hurts. =)

    • Alaska Pi says:

      There are multiple issues with farmed fish already which are not being addressed.
      The humano-centric notion that winning market formulas supersedes or supplants other criteria for judgment in policies we adopt to feed ourselves has gotten us in hot water the world over, over and over again.Unintended consequences and collateral damage to other values/objects/systems top the oh-jeez-what-we-done-here? list far too often.
      This Time article from 2007 barely scratches the surface.
      http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1663604,00.html
      If we fall for the cheap-protein-for-all routine, we are ignoring that 70% of the seafood market is in the US, where as a general rule , we have an abundance of food compared to so many other places.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      This is an upbeat article , to me TOO upbeat ,
      http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/04/chilean-fish-farms-and-the-tragedy-of-the-commons/#.UNxz7qz4KSo
      but does touch on the multiple issues with ecology, sustainability, disease….

    • Alaska Pi says:

      And last for today, but certainly not least:
      “Farmed Fish Fed Cheap Food May Be Less Nutritious For Humans”

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226164105.htm

      What to feed these critters is a big issue which has been argued endlessly. Feeding them other fish , as the numbers of farmed fisheries grow/grew, became a problem because whether we want to accept it or not, the ocean and its bounty is finite. Shifting to cheaper feeds- now, what do we have?
      Do we want this?

      There are a number of other things which ought to be weighed as well before we even talk about the strange process which certified frankenfish as safe but one thing to think about- this certification is mostly about getting an ok to market these fish here in the US, the richest market for seafood, not about feeding the world.

      • Erin says:

        Dayum, I didn’t realize how much food a farmed predatory fish requires. Even if a species is engineered to grow faster and with less food, that’s still a lot of input for so little output! Is part of the dislike for the AquaBounty fish that it would be (theoretically) taking a slice of the salmon market along with the fish that wild salmon usually eat, then?
        Where do you think the focus SHOULD be, Alaska Pi? Do you think we should stick to fishing for wild specimens and work on changing the populace’s palate to embrace more sustainable, lower-on-the-food-chain species?
        And, yes, I realize that companies rarely have lofty ideals about ending world hunger and are usually aiming to make obscene amounts of money. I can be a hopeless idealist sometimes, and need to work on not letting it color my perceptions overmuch.
        Lastly, I’m not too worried about the fish’s safety to eat. DNA codes for RNA, which is translated into proteins. If people can eat the same protein in a Chinook salmon with no harmful side effects, I seriously doubt that its function would change at all in an Atlantic salmon. The risk of point mutations is not increased, since we’re not messing with the Atlantic salmon’s polymerase enzymes. The gene in question would change at about the same rate as it does in nature, with the same usual consequences (silence, or a completely non-functional product and likely death of the organism). Long story short- if you’re transferring one gene from a fish that is edible, and you don’t change the gene’s function, then the resulting product will still be safe.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          Erin- At this point I will defer to to you on the safety of eating the frankenfish but , yes, I am concerned about anything which increases the trend of towards farmed fish and the pressure that puts on other ocean species for food as well as any damage to the wild salmon fishery .
          I do think we “should stick to fishing for wild specimens and work on changing the populace’s palate to embrace more sustainable, lower-on-the-food-chain species” ( very well put! )
          I would also like to see some real work done to save and assist artisanal fisheries the world over, the work it provides, combined with greater food security , is of enormous value.
          http://www.fao.org/focus/e/fisheries/proc.htm
          If overfishing and such like can managed people can continue to feed themselves and earn some income.
          I have many other concerns about what might happen in Alaska should the wild salmon market collapse or contract a fair amount but haven’t thought them through very well yet. We are a resource state. We’re not very good yet at balancing the needs for clean habitat for fish with mining and the like. To lose the impetus to work it out sensibly because of huge drop in income on fish is quite possible. That worries me . A lot.

          • Erin says:

            Understandable. Seafood in Alaska might be comparable to fossil fuels in Wyoming- that is, they might be the only reason there are people in a given area. Sometimes the need to get to that resource is difficult (or even impossible) to balance with the need to refrain from damaging our environment. And sometimes the desire to get more of that resource faster and cheaper becomes a problem. Thanks for expanding my understanding! =)

    • mlaiuppa says:

      If that’s all you think it is, you are misinformed.

  2. ndjinn says:

    No way “probably sterile” could be an issue.

  3. GoI3ig says:

    The irony here is amazing. A “trust the free market” Republican vows to break a private company. I’m no fan of farmed fish, or genetically engineered fish, but the GOP hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  4. mike from iowa says:

    One wonders if Congressmen Young understands what heavy metals and poisonous chemicals(like cyanide) does to fish and wildlife from gold mining? I am glad awful stories are presented with humor and sarcasm. If fish and wildlife could read what rethugs have in store for them,they all would commit mass extinction-just to get it over with.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Sadly- he pretty much refuses to understand .Advanced a plan to block the EPA from dealing with water quality in/on all navigable waters. Dunderhead Don.

      I’m not sure I feel at all comfortable with Mr Young being on my/our side in this one AKM.
      Too much like the Earth shifting its axis…

      OMG. Did the world end after all and we didn’t get the memo ?

      • mike from iowa says:

        Maybe he believes EPA stands for equal protections agency and maybe he thinks Obama will take money from the rich and give to the poor so we are all equal. The only time I remember rethugs worried about equality was when the Scotus appointed dum bass dubya potus.If memory serves they reconfigured the 14th amendment equal protection clause in dubya’s favor claiming irreperable harm if dubya wasn’t appointed. They were certainly spot on about irreperable harm.

  5. Zyxomma says:

    I don’t eat any seafood apart from sea vegetables, and I’m awfully glad I have a huge stash of pre-Fukushima nori on hand, since there are NO tests for radiation in food. I’ve always joked that I’m truly vegan apart from whatever krill is hiding in my seaweed. Now it’s no joke.

    Health and peace.

  6. juneaudream says:

    Blessedly..we only had genuine Columbia River salmon..over a years time..from our gillnetting. Year, after year..after year. Wild natures bounty. Now..because money can be made..the poor salmon are being ‘spitted’ with gene splicing tools..so to speak..and then let loose..in Panama? ..Eel now, perhaps..let the smolts..be fed human bodys..after death..to cut down on the biohazards..of disease. How about ..roadkill..high protien. Lets just start..giving those folks..some real..hybrids..and also..inject assorted, coloful dyes..so the new urban rat hybrid..is a nice..salmon color. Have you NOT..read about such things yet? Sillys..go looking..and do NOT..wait for google and headline news..you gots to..dig..for the new stuff.

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