Fly Fishers' Republic

Brown Salmon

May 29, 2013

by Raif Killips

Brown Salmon

Science has shown that given the opportunity transgenic Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) can in principal, cross breed with wild brown trout (Salmo trutta). This scientific paper explains how technically, GM and wild fish, in this case brown trout, can hybridize. It also considers the viability of hybridization, growth rates of offspring, and the ecological pressures resulting. The indications and implications are concerning.

Industry however, tells us that their controls rule out any risk of of cross breeding occurring because they output only sterile females. Amongst other controls, that seems reassuring. But the question remains, do we trust the industry and can we be sure there really is no risk. For instance, land based operations may be at risk of flood events…

Remember a company such as AquaBounty presumably seek to produce many millions of units.  In those many millions and years of production will there never be a breech of procedure or several procedures? More importantly, in the event of a breech, could the result ever be viable breeding fish entering a will ecosystem?

With or without these answers, if you read the paper, you’ll realise just how little research there is on this subject and consequently how little must be know about some of true risks.