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Grill to Save Bristol Bay

Savor Bristol Bay cedar grilling planks are now available for purchase from Fire & Flavor Grilling Co. All proceeds from cedar plank sales directly benefit the Save Bristol Bay campaign. Buy your cedar plank today.

Water & Wine

Not sure what wine to have with your wild salmon? Check out one of Trout Unlimited's Water & Wine partners and invest your dollars in a winery that's investing in the future of our wild salmon

WW Business Partners

Wondering where to go to dinner or where to buy some wild salmon? Check out our growing list of WhyWild Business Partners with businesses all over the country committed to sustainable wild salmon fisheries and doing their part to save wild salmon. View the list

Genetically Engineered Salmon?

Having genetically engineered salmon available in the seafood marketplace seems to be gaining momentum.  The Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing all the data and permit applications from AquaBounty Technologies, which has been working over the past decade to get its genetically engineered salmon (aka, "AquAdvantage Salmon") into the hands of US consumers.  Read more here.

What does Trout Unlimited have to say about it?...
"Wild salmon are a vital thread in the fabric of our American heritage. They literally connect mountains to the sea and farmers to fishermen. We do not need to alter the genetics of what might be the world's most perfect source of protein to sustain wild salmon or to feed people." 
- Chris Wood, CEO Trout Unlimited

Read our comments submitted to the Food and Drug Administration during its public comment period.

Why are we concerned?...
If we lose the genetic integrity of our wild fish stocks, then we lose our wild fish.  Wild salmon have been able to adapt to new environments and conditions over thousands of years thanks to their genetic makeup and diversity. Therefore, introducing genetically engineered salmon into the natural environment and exposing wild salmon to these altered fish could undermine the genetic makeup - and ultimately the survival - of wild salmon.  According to Purdue University researchers, "releasing a transgenic [aka a genetically modified or engineered] fish to the wild could damage native populations even to the point of extinction."  (Sigurdson, C.  Transgenic fish could threaten wild populations. 2000. Purdue News.)

The National Academy of Sciences did a study on animal biotechnology in 2002 which concluded that "ecological principles and empirical data suggests a considerable risk of ecological hazards becoming realized should transgenic fish or shellfish enter natural systems."  They also noted that with regards to environmental concerns "animals that become feral easily, are highly mobile, and have caused extensive community damage pose the greatest concern. These include mice and rats, fish and shellfish, and insects."

Given the farmed salmon industry's track record for escapes, specifically in Canada, there is little reason to believe that companies raising genetically engineered salmon could prevent all escapes into the wild unless they were raised in land-based systems. 
Other concerns include:

  • The amount of feed required by AquAdvantage Salmon, which grow at twice the rate as regular farmed salmon.  Our oceans are already seeing a huge loss at the trophic level due to fish feed production.  Increasing the production rate of salmon farms will only increase the pressure on our wild pelagic fish.
  • The potential for human error and genetic instability, which could lead to the potential for fertile genetically engineered salmon.

How can you stay informed?...
Join the WhyWild email list to stay informed about future opportunities to weigh in on this issue and to help us keep genetically engineered salmon out of our waters and off of our tables.

Read more about farmed salmon and their impacts to wild salmon.  Below are a few suggested scientific articles to get you started.

Genetic Impacts of Escaped Salmon, McGinnity et al, 1997
Escaped Farm Salmon Cause Extinctions, McGinnity et al, 2003
Impacts of Aquaculture, Coughlan et al, 2006