Environment Forum

Genetically engineered fish, anyone?

Would you eat a genetically modified fish? What about pork from a pig with mouse genes? Beef from cattle with genes spliced to resist “mad cow” disease?

CHILE-SALMON/CRISISThese are questions Americans may soon have to answer for themselves if the U.S. health regulators allow the sale of a genetically engineered salmon. The company that makes it, Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc <ABTX.L>, expects an agency decision by year’s end.

The biotech says its Atlantic salmon grows nearly twice as fast as normal salmon and could help Americans get more locally farmed fish. That could cut down on U.S. imports of roughly $1.4 billion a year in Atlantic salmon from other countries such as Chile while also easing pressure on wild Atlantic salmon in the nation’s Northeast.

But environmentalists and consumer advocates are concerned about what could happen if such altered fish were to escape or be released in rivers or off-shore salmon farms. They also worry about the health effects of eating such modified fish.

The Food and Drug Administration takes up the issue starting Sept. 19 as part of a three-day public hearing on whether to allow the genetically altered salmon on the U.S. market.

Global plantings of biotech crops

(Reuters) – Led by U.S. producers, 14 million farmers in 25 countries planted genetically modified crops in 2009, increasing planted biotech cropland by 7 percent, even as biotech crop use declined in Europe, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a pro-biotech crop group.

Biotech soybeans made up more than three-quarters of global soybean plantings; biotech cotton was nearly half of global cotton, and biotech maize accounted for more than one-quarter of global maize land.

The following is a list of 15 countries that planted at least 100,000 hectares in 2009 to genetically modified corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops, according to ISAAA. Ten countries planted less than 100,000 hectares.

from India Insight:

Why let a debate determine the fate of GM foods?

Students hold a mock funeral procession against genetically modified brinjal crop in Chandigarh January 28, 2010. REUTERS/Ajay VermaThere's nothing Indians like better than a good debate.

So when Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced last month that he would hold public debates to decide the commercial fate of genetically modified brinjal (eggplant), there were hopes these would provide a chance for all stakeholders to be heard.

But the debates, in seven cities including Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, were chaotic, nothing more than acrimonious shouting matches between environmental activists and scientists, who say they were not given a fair chance to voice their opinion.

One scientist said he had his hand raised for more than half an hour, but was not allowed to speak. Another said he was told he could make a presentation, but was again not allowed to. Others were not even permitted to enter the premises.

Bloggers sound off on GMO foods

Kenyan blogger Juliana Rotich is the editor of Green Global Voices, which monitors citizen media in the developing world, and is a regular contributor to this page. Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

Genetically Modified foods have been a concern for many environment bloggers in South Africa and other parts of Africa. On this post we check in a handful of bloggers who’ve recently written about genetically modified (GMO) foods and seed.

UrbanSprout points to a report in Mail Online article that indicates lower fertility in mice fed on GM (Genetically Modified) maize.

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