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.

Environmental cancers still a wild card

SECURITY PORT

Dr. Karl Kelsey, MD, MOH, is Professor of Community Health and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown University. He is Director of the Center for Environmental Health and Technology, home to the Brown University Superfund Basic Research Program. Any views expressed here are his own.–

What are we to make of the 250-page report from the President’s Cancer Panel on environmental cancer risk?

Is it a wakeup call for regulators, demanding that they protect us from massive numbers of untested chemicals? Is it an unbalanced, provocative account that ignores the well-known, preventable causes of cancer?

Tire incineration is not renewable energy

USA-CITIES/SHRINKING

– Brian Schwartz and Cindy Parker are both physicians and faculty in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. They are also both Fellows of the Post Carbon Institute. The opinions expressed are solely their own. –

How do you solve a problem like David Miller?

According to the Chicago Tribune, he is the Illinois representative who last month, with little fanfare and notice at the time, attempted to modify legislation to include tire burning in the state’s definition of renewable energy.

The bill failed to pass initially but it isn’t dead yet – supporters may attempt to add it to another bill before the General Assembly adjourns.

Must the natural gas industry clean up its act?

Natural gas is regarded as a relatively clean source of energy but there is mounting evidence that it has a dirty side.

My colleague Jon Hurdle has reported on Wyoming water woes that have been linked to the booming gas industry. You can see his stories here and here.

In August U.S. government scientists reported that they had for the first time found chemical contaminants in drinking water wells near natural gas drilling operations, fueling concern that a gas-extraction technique is endangering the health of people who live close to drilling rigs.

from Commentaries:

Water down the tube in London heatwave

waterLondon's transport bosses are telling travellers on the tube system to beat the heat by carrying a bottle of water with them when they venture underground.

But how many of us are refilling our bottles with tap water rather than pouring money down the tube -- not to mention the cost of recycling the plastic bottles -- by buying a new bottle of water each day?

Cue the National Hydration Council whose eye-catching advertising campaign to encourage people to buy more "naturally sourced bottled water" -- on health grounds -- featured prominently on the underground network earlier this year.

Can the Internet save the environment?

Could a constant search of the Internet help protect the environment by picking up early hints about pollution or signs of climate change such as desertification, droughts or heatwaves?

A study issued on Thursday hints that it could.

A scuba diver in the South China Sea off Malaysia (above, picture by David Loh of Reuters News) might write a blog if corals looked damaged by ‘bleaching’ – algae that give reefs their colours can start to die off because of higher sea temperatures. It might just turn out that divers far away in Australia, the Caribbean or elsewhere were starting to notice the same thing — perhaps setting off alarm bells about global warming.

“The Internet has the possibility to link up anecdotes to see if there’s a pattern,” said Tim Daw of the University of East Anglia who was among the authors. All that would be needed is an automated trawl of the Internet to pick up the information.

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