GM salmon in wild might produce bold hybrids
Research shows current production safeguards 'sufficient'
There could be potential risks, if genetically modified salmon escape into the wild, indicates a new study from Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Researcher Krista Oke bred GM salmon, supplied by AquaBounty, with wild brown trout.
Almost half the resulting hybrids carried the genetic modification.
Oke then put these GM hybrids in a tank with a semi-natural environment, along with salmon.
Results show the hybrids outcompeted the other fish for food and reduced the growth of GM salmon by 82 per cent and non-GM salmon by 54 per cent.
Although Oke doesn't think these findings relate to AquaBounty's current proposal, now before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, she hopes the study will be considered in the decision. The company is asking to sell GM salmon produced at its facilties in P.E.I. and Panama in the U.S. Oke said the company has strict containment systems and aims to produce almost 100 per cent sterile fish.
"I think currently what AquaBounty is proposing to do, it seems that their safeguards will be sufficient. You know, adequately prevent these kinds of risks," said Oke.
"Where I think our work is more important would be if those regulations were weakened, which again I don't know if anyone's proposing to do right now, and AquaBounty certainly isn't proposing to do, at the moment."
In a statement, AquaBounty said, "Overall, the study seems to present no new evidence for any added environmental risk associated with AquAdvantage salmon."
But Oke does want her findings to be considered should there be any expansion of AquaBounty's plans, or the regulations change.
Oke said hybridization is an important consideration for future GM fish and animals.
The study appears in the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.