By: Janna Velasquez
Would you eat sick fish or genetically modified fish? You may have already, as AquaBounty, the first corporation to gain approval to create a genetically engineered animal to be used for human consumption, has been mixing the genetics of Chinook Salmon and Ocean Pout into an Atlantic salmon, causing rapid growth, heightened aggression, and significant diminishment of nutritional content. Built on the lie of “food scarcity” caused and driven by corporate greed, AquaBounty, based in Massachusetts, raises its creation in land-based farms, one in Indiana and two facilities in Canada. AquaBounty plans to expand, beginning with a new mega-plant in Pioneer, Ohio.
Not only have these “franken-fish,” as the genetically engineered fish have been coined, been proven to be less nutritious and cause severe toxic contamination tothe environment, animals and people, these new creatures risk competition with and contamination of already endangered native salmon populations upon escape or release.
Salmon is and has been a sacred keystone species to many Indigenous people all around the world for thousands of years. These people are Salmon People, whose livelihood, culture, and creation myths center salmon. The #Blockcorporatesalmon campaign works in coalition with numerous other activist and indigenous groups, including the Muckleshoot of the Pacific Northwest, to restore and protect wild salmon and its habitats.
The damning evidence was collected by former worker at the Indiana facility, Braydon Humphry, who was fired shortly after reporting violations to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The photo and video provided shows worker safety violations; product quality and consumer health risks; containment breaches and effluent water pollution; animal abuse; and unsustainable practices. These revelations have implications not only for AquaBounty, but for pseudo sustainability of farmed and genetically modified fish.
Celia LoBuono Gonzalez, member of #Blockcorporatesalmon campaign, emphasizes that solutions to these atrocities, in addition to halting the production of genetically engineered salmon, must stop the corporate production of salmon altogether, in addition to removing dams and centering and sharing resources with indigenous-led groups, some of which that offer curriculum that can be provided to educational centers, such as schools, universities, churches, and community centers. LoBuono Gonzales leaves us with hope, stating that, with indigenous-led efforts, there have been “promising estimates on regeneration of native salmon populations.”