Genetically Modified Salmon

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The Use of Genetically Modified Salmon

Throughout history there has always been a need to produce large quantities of crops and livestock which contain the most desirable phenotype. Farmers select for these desirable traits on the most fundamental level employing techniques such as selective breeding and the use of fertilizers. However with the ever growing expansion of today's society the ability to produce sufficient resources using conventional agricultural methods is limited. The science of biotechnology has created a way to substantially increase the production of these limited resources. Biotechnology has allowed us to manipulate DNA leading to the creation of organisms expressing the most profitable traits. Aquatic biotechnology is a branch of biotechnology which is related to the marine environment. Recently the focus of aquatic biotechnology has been on fish production, specifically the production of Salmon. Every new application of gene manipulation brings about benefits and risks. The purpose of this paper is to further explore the benefits and risks of genetically modified salmon and their associated ecological impacts. Genetically modified salmon are being used to increase quality food supplies, to meet the demands of expanding human populations and to protect the species itself. Genetically modified salmon have economic value and serve as the solution to problems in the salmon industry. Genetic modification is thereby advantageous to fish farming industries that are having difficulty maintaining adequate wild salmon populations. Ultimately the goal of genetically modified salmon is to replenish wild salmon by relieving pressure imposed on the natural populations. However, these methods of manipulation not only affect the salmon but may also affect us, the consumers.

Method of Production

Transgenic salmon are produced by transferring specific genes containing the desired traits into newly fertilized eggs using the method of microinjection. Initially the genes are isolated from the host species, the genes are entered into a plasmid that is then replicated inside a bacteria. Millions of copies are made. The gene is then separated from the bacteria creating a linear piece of DNA. The cultivated DNA is injected into fertilized fish eggs. After the eggs hatch the fish that have successfully incorporated the gene into their genotype will be used to create a breeding stock of fish that display the desired trait.

Industry Increases Food Supply through Aquatic Biotechnology

Genetically modified salmon are being used by industries to solve the global problem of over-fishing and depletion of the natural salmon population. There is an increasing stress on the fishing industries caused by growing populations, mainly in Asia, Africa, and South America. Approximately 2.3 million tonnes of wild and farmed salmon smelts and sea trout were harvested in 2000, compared to 625, 000 tonnes in 1975 (Muir, 2004). Additionally, the food and agricultural organization of the United Nations estimates that the worldwide demand for fish will increase to 110 million tons in 2010 (Aerni, 2004). Although the need for salmon is increasing, the abundance of wild salmon is decreasing and salmon is facing depletion. In order to compensate for the financial loss caused by salmon depletion, industries have made many internal structural changes. Industries have made employment cuts, in an attempt to redirect funds into fishing fleets. By decreasing the number of employees and increasing the number of fishing vessels, companies are attempting to meet the increasing salmon demands. With the ever increasing need for salmon as a commodity, companies are consistently engaged in an arms race in an attempt to catch more salmon than the competition. Aquatic Biotechnology has started an aquacultural revolution, offering further enhancement of agricultural productivity. This sudden surge of technology has allowed us to not only increase...
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