By SeafoodSource staff
Published on Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Deep in the rain forests of Panama, in a secret location behind padlocked gates, barbed-wire fences and over a rickety wooden bridge, grows what could be the most debated food product of our time.
It may look like the 1993 hit movie “Jurassic Park,” but at this real-life freshwater farm scientists are altering the genes not of dinosaurs — but of fish.
They are growing a new DNA-altered saltwater fish in the mountains, far from the sea — a salmon that could be the first genetically altered animal protein approved for the world to eat. If it is approved, this would be a landmark change for human food.
But it is one critics call “Frankenfish.”
“The idea of changing an animal form, I think, is really creepy,” said Gary Hirshberg, founder of Stonyfield Farm, an organic dairy farm. “When you move the DNA from a species into another species ... you create a new life form that's so new and so unique that you can get a patent for it.”
And until now, AquaBounty, the multinational biotech company that for 20 years has been developing this giant fish, has kept it under close wraps.
The press has never been invited to its Prince Edward Island laboratory on the Canadian maritime coast, and its fish farm location in Panama has been kept secret out of fear of sabotage.
The Food and Drug Administration has seen it, but few from the outside. In fact, the last public tour of any kind was four years ago.