Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

36 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A genetically modified salmon next to a much smaller non-genetically modified salmon of the same age. (AquaBounty Technologies , The Canadian Press)

GM Salmon Would Wreak Havoc on Natural Ecosystems, Say Researchers

The genetically modified fish can breed with trout and take over

Jacob Chamberlain

Genetically modified (GM) salmon could have a catastrophic impact on natural ecosystems if they are introduced into the wild, a team of scientists warned this week.

The study, published Tuesday and conducted by scientists from Newfoundland’s Memorial University, shows for the first time that GM salmon would quickly become an invasive species if they bred with similar species such as the brown trout—a likely crossbreed that would wreak havoc for other fish.

The fish, which are genetically modified to grow faster than natural salmon, could escape from fish farms into a natural habitat.

Using a laboratory-simulated stream, the researchers raised GM Atlantic salmon, wild Atlantic salmon, wild brown trout and hybrids of GM salmon crossed with trout.

The researchers found that the crossbreed offspring of GM salmon with brown trout consumed food at a much faster rate than their parents and non-GM fish. This, combined with the unparallelled growth rate of the of GM offspring, would mean other species would not be able to compete for food.

Additionally, as the team of researchers pointed out, GM salmon are more likely to crossbreed with species other than non-GM salmon — meaning the hungry offspring would more than likely become pervasive.

The Montreal Gazette reports:

While cross-breeding between salmon and trout occurs infrequently in the wild — at a rate of only about one per cent — previous studies have found that when farmed salmon escape from hatcheries or fish farms into the wild, the rate increases to as high as 41 per cent, the researchers said.

“If this advantage is maintained in the wild, transgenic hybrids could detrimentally affect wild salmon populations, ” said researcher Krista Oke.

GM salmon are created by biotech firm AquaBounty and are currently under consideration for public sale by the US Food and Drug Administration. The fish would be the first GM animals to be approved for human consumption.

________________________


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·


Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Payoff for 40 Years of Dark Money': Supreme Court Delivers for Corporate America

"It was the conservative court's larger agenda to gut the regulatory state and decimate executive powers to protect Americans' health and safety," warned one expert.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo