Sunday,18 December,2011 17:48:04
You may recall that a little more than a year ago I blogged about AquaBounty’s genetically engineered fish. While I urged caution regarding this subject in general, I did not urge irrational paranoia. I am firmly convinced (and was a year ago) that enough hoops had been jumped through, that the risks were insignificant and that they should be allowed to proceed. They have satisfied all of the requirements that have been asked of them (and it looks like quite a bit more).
At this time the continued stalling is not supported by scientifically valid concerns. It is sure likes like it is motivated by nothing but political considerations. This monumental game playing is a disservice to all consumers. It appears quite evident that our political system has been subverted by individuals, who all the while extolling the virtuous reasons behind their need to embrace form over function, continue to remind me that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Just yesterday there was another hearing to discuss the issue. I am of the opinion that there are forces at work that will stop at nothing short of AquaBounty being dismantled and every last fish killed, revived and killed again just to make sure that they are all dead. Dr. Ron Stotish, president and CEO of AquaBounty very thoroughly addressed all of the reasonable concerns and I would encourage you to read it for yourself.
Let’s get real here. There is not a single shred of real evidence to support the theory that these fish will hurt people that consume them. Nor is there any evidence that their mere presence in grocery stores is an affront to common decency. There is certainly no scientific basis upon which to believe that if some crazed ecoterrorist(s) were to kidnap the fish and release them into the wild that there would be any impact whatsoever. There is however a lot of idle speculation.
Science is a wonderful tool without which humanity would still be living in caves and an old person would be a 25 year old. There are few out there who would dispute that the science has enriched mankind immeasurably and that the fruits that have yet to be gathered will continue to do so. Mankind is on a crash course heading with feedback inhibition, largely as a result of not being able to balance the innate need to reproduce with the desire of the masses to acquire and accumulate things (many of which equate with living better, healthier and more individually productive lives). There are close to 7 billion humans alive today with 130 million a year more mouths to feed (to be fair it is actually about half this many as about 60 million people die annually). We are obligated to engage in sustainable practices to ensure that future generations will have a world to live in that is better (or at the very least not worse) than the one we have today. While this may be a long shot and there are some who would argue that we are already at the tipping point, what is real here is that humans have to eat. Aquaculture is a growing global business that despite ups and downs continues to feed more people every day and will well into the foreseeable future.
There is no scientific basis upon which to reject AquaBounty’s business model. They have addressed all reasonable concerns and this issue has been analyzed to death. At this point in time the continued persecution of their as yet unmarketed technology (of which their fish is the first example) has reached the level of a witch-hunt. Let them sell their fish. Let the market place decide if they want it, not politicians with clearly biased dispositions or organizations that extoll sustainability and do not see that this is one component of it. GMO (plants) are consumed widely in the US. There is no science based logical reason for AquaBounty not to proceed. There really are no true concerns that have not been addressed.
Perhaps this is not the real issue then. What is it? Personally I think that this is a smoke screen. This would be the first genetically altered animal altered via direct genetic manipulation that would find its way into the market place. There are many who fear this will open Pandora’s box. This is fear mongering. This company has gone to an extreme to satisfy what from am outsiders viewpoint looks as if the goalposts keep moving.
If public opinion condemns them to fail by consumers not buying the fish, then so-be-it. The promise of genetic manipulation is far too important to ignore for us to become paralyzed into inaction because of non-science based fears. Bear in mind that if the fish find a financially viable niche, there will be other fish species (and animals) that will line-up to be registered and sold. Should they have to wait decades and go through this same irrational process? While public safety is and should always be a point of concern, this fear must be based on reality, not deception, lies and fear mongering. At this time they are ready for the public to decide. Let them!