Fish & Wildlife | Ecotrope

Europe: We don't want your 'monster' salmon

Ecotrope | April 22, 2011 2:31 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:39 p.m.

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Some of the opposition to genetically modified salmon is stemming from fears that the new fast-growing fish will claim a chunk of the $107-billion-a-year global market.

Some of the opposition to genetically modified salmon is stemming from fears that the new fast-growing fish will claim a chunk of the $107-billion-a-year global market.

Reuters reports the Europeans who dominate the $107 billion-a-year global farmed salmon market are warily watching the pending U.S. approval of the AquaBounty superfish (which could happen this summer).

It’s an interesting angle on the genetically modified salmon debate because it exposes the vested interests behind some of the opposition to AquaBounty’s fast-growing transgenic fish.

The story doesn’t address larger, philosophical and scientific concerns about tweaking nature to suit our ever-growing appetite. But it does note that most of Europe opposes genetically modified foods (A European Commission survey found 77 percent of Europeans oppose GM food of any kind). And ┬áit has a killer quote:

“We don’t have any monster pigs in Europe, or monster cows, and there’s no need for such a salmon,” said Geir Isaksen, the chief executive at big Norwegian fish farmer Cermaq.

But Norwegian Atlantic salmon producers supplied 65 percent of the world’s farmed salmon in 2010, so it makes sense they might feel threatened by a new species that grows twice as fast as theirs. From Reuters:

“If it (GM salmon) becomes a big thing, it’s clearly negative for the existing salmon farmers,” said Dag Sletmo, an analyst at Oslo investment bank ABG Sundal Collier.

Sletmo said salmon has become a global commodity whose prices could tumble if genetic tinkering boosts supply while puncturing demand in core markets like Europe, where sentiment runs high against GM food.

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