This is a guest article by Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks.

AquaBounty, the Franken-science company that created Franken-Salmon, has launched an advertising and speaking campaign to tout their latest Franken-invention – Franken-Salmon. With the political might of Monsanto, DuPont and the rest of the biotech industry, Aquabounty has dug into the industries’ bag of “dirty tricks” to promote transgenic salmon and push for approval from the FDA.

Frankenfish are trans genetically modified fish that often combine more than one species. It can be compared to genetically crossing a sheep with cattle to create a high bred animal to be used for food. In the case of Franken-salmon, the gene was spliced with an injection of a combination of a growth gene (GH-coding sequences) from the Pacific Chinook salmon and genetic material (the AFP gene) from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish, which allows the salmon to grow twice as fast as a traditional Atlantic salmon.

To understand the trans genetic process, to split any gene, a scientist must use a promoter virus, bacteria or toxin – an on/off switch that controls where and how the gene is changed. The mutation (splitting with a bacteria, toxin or virus) of genes causes a permanent change in the DNA sequence of a gene. Many doctors and scientists state that if a virus is used as a vector, a cancer risk is created.

Finally, a selective marker gene must be inserted to identify cells which have successfully integrated the transgene. AquaBounty has yet to disclose whether the company used a promoter-virus, such as the contagious Cauliflower Mosaic Virus, E. coli bacteria or Bt Toxin to split the salmon’s genes.

According to AquaBounty, transgenic salmon are “nature identical” and sterile, exclusively female, and unable to breed even if they escaped from the facilities where they are raised into the wild. However, despite these assurances, the FDA indicates that up to 5% of the eggs may indeed be fertile, and the company’s claims in this regard are “potentially misleading”.

Scientists from Memorial University in St. John’s, have found that male fish carrying a growth hormone gene that causes them to grow twice as quickly as regular salmon can engage in normal breeding behavior and breed with wild females under natural conditions. The simple fact is that transgenic salmon were capable of natural breeding with wild females.

AquaBounty’s FDA proposal calls for the embryos of the fish to be sterilized in Canada before being shipped to Panama, where the males would be exposed to estrogen and sex-reversed. It is unknown whether the estrogen used to convert the AquaBounty fish is from factory farmed horse urine. But an educated guess would be that the industry would prefer to use synthetic hormones instead of natural ones because it is cheaper.

How can a salmon that starts out a male and undergoes a sex change treatment with hormones be “nature identical”? How is this any different than a transsexual male becoming a female by surgery and the use of female hormones? Many religions may find Franken-salmon an “abomination”.

AquaBounty also claims their science proves that their transgenic fish is biologically and chemically indistinguishable from regular Atlantic salmon. According to AquaBounty, it only grows faster. However, the FDA found that these fish contain elevated levels of growth hormones, including insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a proven carcinogen. Elevated levels of IGF-1 in humans are linked to colon, prostate and breast cancer.

Not only did the oversized, aggressive, gene-modified salmon gobble up most of the feed when raised in tanks with ordinary salmon, they also gobbled up their weaker competitors – including their own type – like something out of science fiction movie. Only one or two of the Frankenfish survived in tanks that originally held 50 fish. The other 48 Franken-salmon were ground up into food for the remaining fish to eat.

If their Franken-salmon is biologically and chemically indistinguishable, then why do they have more fins than a wild salmon, grow faster, grow many times larger, eat their own, eat three times as much as wild salmon and eat 24/7.

AquaBounty has the backing of the entire biotech industry who are watching carefully to see whether Franken-salmon opens the flood gates to the industries’ other Chimeras such as Enviropigs, cloned cattle, cloned dairy cows and other cloned or biotech “edibles” that can be sold to the consumer without labeling under the tired catch phrase “nature identical”.

Transgenic cattle, fish, pigs and other animals are about as “nature identical” as Frankenstein is to George Clooney.  If you adopt their philosophies, one day a cloned woman will be voted Ms. America after she is alleged to be “nature identical” to Marilyn Monroe.

This new round of public relations started when AquaBounty was subjected to criticism from politicians from so-called Salmon states. It caused a counteroffensive by the biotech industry. According to said Ronald L. Stotish, President and CEO of AquaBounty Technologies, “We remain confident that the more deliberative body of the Senate will refrain from interfering in the 15 year scientific review by the U.S. FDA.”

What scientific review?  The FDA used a “secret process” (designed to review veterinary drugs) to rule on the safety of AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon. The confidential drug evaluation process does not fully assess food safety or environmental impacts and blocks public input. It is a review process designed by the industry foxes in the public henhouse.

As a result of the FDA’s shroud of secrecy, AquaBounty was not required to provide any information that shows how they employ a promoter-virus, such as the contagious Cauliflower Mosaic Virus, E. coli bacteria or Bt Toxin to split the salmon’s genes.

According to Jaydee Hanson, policy analyst for the US-based Center for Food Safety, “The FDA is relying on an environmental assessment done by private consultants hired by the company.” Hanson also said, “”The documents received make clear that some data was even kept from FWS and NMFS scientists…. If the FDA won’t even share confidential company data with government scientists, what else is it keeping secret from the public?”

The Center for Food Safety recently revealed a document that proves the FDA knowingly withheld vital information during the 2010 hearings regarding the approval of GMO salmon. The Biological Opinion, created by the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2003, provides conclusive evidence that genetically modified (GMO) salmon pose a serious threat to endangered Atlantic salmon if accidentally released into the wild.

Despite the current revelations, Stotish keeps mouthing the industry mantra that fear of competition is fueling the “usual tricks” by Congress. Stotish ignores the fact that AquaBounty and the biotech industry are using their “usual tricks” (including hiding critical studies) to get the Franken-salmon approved by the FDA.

Stotish in a flash of overzealous hyperbole said, “It would be a dangerous precedent to react to a handful of legislators’ misinformed paranoia.” Isn’t that what Dr. Frankenstein said about his creature before he was banned to his hidden forest castle?

Stotish went on to say, “The real waste of tax-payer dollars would be to abandon the important American principle of science-based regulation, responding instead to economic protectionist fears or subjective and emotional judgments. The absence of evidence does not mean there is no evidence. It only means that it has not been discovered yet or withheld by AquaBounty. This is an issue greater than our application, an issue of American leadership in technology, innovation, and science-based regulation.”

It seems to us that the greater issue here is how many other Franken-creatures does the biotech want to create and put into our food delivery system. The greedy plans of Monsanto, DuPont and other biotech companies to market their own bastardized creatures is why they are using their political might to assist AquaBounty in lobbying Franken-Salmon through Congress. They will spare no expense and stoop to nothing to get their products approved.

A government scientist wrote in a leaked e-mail. “Maybe (the FDA) should watch Jurassic Park.”

The industry has hired Bill Muir, a Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue University, a Merck and MacDonald’s consultant, to advance their arguments. He is just another bought-and-paid for academic supported by the food industry to provide articles to support their patent applications as described in our blog on “ghostwriting” (input link).

Mother Nature has provided food for humans for ten thousand years in a complex relationship between edible species and the environment that has served humans well. Now comes a few God-like biotech companies that want to change the patterns of God and Mother Nature to a Godless pattern of science creating bastardized creatures for humans to eat.

Faced with the overwhelming financial might of the biotech industry, thirty-nine members of Congress are putting political pressure on FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to cut off the FDA’s funding for ruling on AquaBounty’s application. It is clear to the senators and representatives that the cards are stacked against them because of the Obama administrations unholy relationship with the biotech industry recently revealed in White House and Congressional emails.

By exporting the process to Canada and Panama, the lawmakers argue that genetically modified salmon could kill jobs by interfering with the fish farming industry, cause environmental damage and potentially harm consumers. Sen. Mark Begich said, “I just don’t see a reason from a fundamental standpoint why we have to start manufacturing ‘Frankenfish’ when we have incredible fisheries that employ thousands of people.”

Sometimes a major corporation makes a startling admission on their website without realizing it. Such is the case with this gem straight from the Aquabounty Website Q&A”

“Q.   Can we be sure that AquAdvantage® Salmon will really be sterile?

A.     Yes. There are specific tests to establish the effectiveness of our process to produce sterile fish.  These tests will be performed on every commercial batch of fish to assure our product meets our specifications.”

So what does this mean? Have they hired a fish OB/GYN to do a pelvic on each Franken-salmon? Just how do you look into a vat full of female Franken-Salmon and tell which ones are sterile? This would be like looking at a crowd of women at a half-price dress sale and determining who are sterile and who are not. Good luck with that.

It is difficult to believe that any business can determine sex and sterility while producing thousands of fish as a food source. The sheer numbers and common sense dictate that it’s not possible. And, like everything else in business there is an error factor. In most businesses, if you can keep your error factor below three percent it is considered excellent.

Assuming for a moment that AquaBounty was excellent at determining sex and sterility, and kept their error factor down to one percent, there would still be approximately 10,000 fertile fish released for every one million fish created in AquaBounty’s Franken-fish factories.

There are more than 340 million Americans, most of whom eat fish. If it took 50 million fish per day (approximately18.2 million per year) to feed Americans, it would mean that 500,000 fertile fish a year or about 18.2 trillion fertile fish annually would be created under acceptable standards for business errors. The sheer numbers spell disaster for any inspection program.

Just how long would it take for one or more of these fertile Franken-salmon to mate and either start a new (and possibly dangerous) species or the destroy the wild fish population around the world? It is possible that many different hybrid and possibly dangerous species could be created from the different pairings among the different species of salmon or other fish. History dictates that nature will always do the unexpected.

Multiply this number by worldwide distribution of franken-salmon and the dangers rise exponentially. And what will happen when an uncontrolled and unethical Third World country gets hold of the science or hacks the genetic make up of a Franken-salmon and started creating their own copies of Franken-salmon. Likely, the progeny would be as substandard as the generic medicine and clothing imported from these countries to the U.S.

Sounds like “Jurassic Park” doesn’t it? Science running amok creating dangerous species despite claims of perfect control. There are no perfect scientists and there are no fail safe programs to protect us from corporate errors and bungling. The creation of life does not happen in a vacuum or in a lab. It happens in a real world with unknown variables and unexpected consequences.

So how did this work for biotech giant Monsanto which still claims their genetically modified seeds are sterile while suing more than 240 farmers claiming their GMO crops have spread to neighboring farms. A neighbor’s farm could not start producing GMO crops unless some of the so-called sterile seeds that blew into their fields were fertile.

And if these Monsanto seeds are truly sterile, why does the pro-biotech FDA require a 20% buffer between GMO crops and organic crops? Spain and other countries that have experimented with GMO seeds require an even larger buffer zone between GMO crops and organic crops to avoid contamination of organic fields. There is no reason to believe that sterile transgenetic fish will be any different.

The science, common sense and the track record of corporate America are sufficient to place any transgenetic creation of fish, animals and birds into the dangerous activities categories. Don’t believe the corporate Kool Aid distributed by AquaBounty and the biotech industry, disguised as public relations and science. It simply is not true. The history of science and the practical problems of business dictate that Franken-salmon will be a disaster for the human race.

Just look at the CDC’s statistical data on the rise of human disease, since the introduction of genetically engineered food into the American food system in 1995. These statistics are alarming enough without throwing more wood on the fire.

If fish food is brain food, then putting garbage into your brain is dangerous. The human brain is about sixty percent fat. The Omega-3 in fish is fat soluble.  Salmon is highly recommended for its high content of Omega-3. Factory farmed fish are low in Omega-3, so companies are forced to supplement it with a synthetic form created in a lab.

How much of the dangerous Omega-6 is Franken-salmon going to contain? Are Franken-fish going to be feed ground-up wild fish, ground up dead Franken-salmon and genetically modified soy and corn?

There are so many unanswered questions about Franken-salmon that should prevent its FDA approval. But can common sense and consumer protections triumph over the onslaught of corporate lobbying and political contributions? Lobbying and the economic power of the biotech industry to advertise and bribe scientists to create false and misleading reports and studies is hard to defeat.

The simple question is who do you trust?  God, Mother nature or a greedy corporation trying to create a new Frankenstein-like product to market for profit.

We suggest that readers write to their Congressmen and Senators and demand full and complete testing by an independent lab be conducted before any consideration be given to approving this Franken-fish for consumption.

Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks, R.N., are the authors of the award winning books – Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn’s, IBD and IBS – How to Eliminate Pain and Extend your Life (Books and Authors 2010 Best Books in the Health, Diet & Reference Categories); Mannie’s Diet and Enzyme Formula – A Change of Lifestyle Diet Designed for Everyone (Blogger News Net 2010 Best Health And Nutrition Book Award winner) and It’s Not Your Fault – Weight Gain, Obesity and Food Addiction   available at, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other booksellers around the world.

The authors latest book, The Food Revolution Papers – A Primer on What’s in Your Food, is due in bookstores in mid-September 2011.

Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks are the co-hosts of Surviving the 21st Century with Simon Barrett on Saturdays at 10:00 A.M. PST/1:00 PM EST and THE FOOD REVOLUTION PAPERS, on Thursday mornings at 9:00 AM PST, 12:00 noon PST, found at or Blog Talk Radio.  More than forty past shows on food and drugs are available at the iTunes Store as free downloads.

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