A devastating storm
All about salmon’s living
Condition in Panama
What is it ?
A new Breed?
All explanations about their creation
Actors and victims
All about GM salmon’s traffic
AquaBounty’s salmon’s case
always wanted to
subjects that inspire
us and concerns the
We decided to create
a magazine which is
a mix of science and
Our team, composed of the scientist, Marie Pfleger, the
wildlife officer, Romane Dufour, and the executive
editor, Léa Schultz, hope that you will enjoy this special
issue about the transgenic salmon.
Our objective: to warn you!
We are here to deliver you every secret behind all your
We also want to deliver all things you can do to protect
the earth, we are engaged in the protection of the earth,
wildlife and your health.
5 - 6
7 - 8
9 - 10
13 - 14
16 - 17
19 - 20
Presentation, what happened?
AquaBounty, genetical magician
Who they are, where they are, their goal.
The GM Salmon, a new breed?
Birth, injected genes, outgrowing size…
From the river to the sea, a worldwide problem
Any rules ?
Current research. Is it possible?
Ms Dantzer – scientist in the Centre National de
Recherche Scientifique of Strasbourg
M. Colin – scientist in the department of
neurogenetics and Translational Medicine
The genetically modified salmons open a debate in the entire world,
especially in the USA. People are not ready to eat something genetically
modified, despite FDA’s (food and drug administration) authorisation. On
the opposite of what people generally think, it is not a problem for our health
but it is an important environment’s problem.
“These kinds of fish are the future.”
Says Luis Lamastus, AquaBounty’s owner
It has been 3 days since the weather alert has spread all over central America.
On the 6 th October 2016, a devastating storm made an airplane heading
towards Panama crash into the Chagres River in central Panama. It
contained genetically modified salmon eggs that had to be delivered to the
american owned fish farm AquaBounty located in Boquete. This incident
seemed like anodyne but in fact it is a major environment problem.
AquaBounty is a fish farm specialized in breeding and raising genetically
modified salmons mostly for the United States market. Now the American
continent is not the only one concerned, but the whole world: the salmon
eggs have escaped into the river and headed into the oceans.
Boquete is situated on
the west Panama’s side.
There are 19 000
inhabitants for a
surface area of 14 322
The devastating storm has
created a huge and irremediable
disaster. Welcome to
The Aquabounty case touches all the world. To understand where does it
come from, we will take you at the origin of the fish's creation, to the problem
that the storm had highlighted.
It all begun in Canada. We went there to understand how it worked.
We saw the fish farm on Prince-Edouard's island, where the eggs of the
transgenic salmons are created.
We learned that the concept of the transgenic salmon was first imagined by
a research team in the university of Toronto and in the university "Memorial
Aquadvantage, based in Massachusetts, decided to develop the concept,
beside the Canadian researchers. Rapidly, Aquadventage company began to
initiate the egg's creation in Canada.
The eggs, genetically modified grow rapidly to become adult salmons. Very
few countries accept to breed this kind of animals because people reject
genetically modified animals, especially for the consumption.
Only one country has accepted: Panama. For the company, Aquabounty
earns a lot of money and Panama can take advantage of this lucrative
Panama made a business deal with the USA. The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) said that the consumption of transgenic salmon is
accepted in the USA but not its creation and breeding.
...and other discovering will surprise you.
"They tried many countries but they were afraid to start something
-Arap's Giovanni Lauri, the administrator of the Water Resource
Authority of Panama
Those fish are, when they
have reached an adult size,
sent to the USA to be bought
by us, the consumers. We
can find them at
It’ a good advantage for food
enterprise because of the
According to the FDA,
there is no impact for our
health if we eat some
transgenic salmons. But
for the environment, it’s
more serious. Due to the
escape of the GM eggs
into the sea, the impact
becomes international :
the whole salmon
population is concerned,
it’s new endangered
Fish farm of Aquadventage in
The GM salmon, a new breed?
The salmon genetically modified by the Canadian company Aquabounty allows
one ethical but also scientific questioning. It is in this article where you can
find all the scientific answers in questions you are asking yourselves. Here we
will raise the subject of the transgenesis, we will name the genes implicated in
those salmons and we will see the consequences of such modifications.
How can we modify a gene?
We can make it by transgenesis
and it is directly made in a cell egg of
a body. We modify the sequence of
nuclenotides of a DNA fragment
which codes for a gene. By
modifying it, we create a new allelle
of this gene: a new version. Then
another protocol begins within the
cell so that the gene expresses
himself: the transcription and the
translation to create a protein.
The DNA is in the pit of cells but so
that these genes express themselves
it is necessary to produce a protein.
For that purpose, an enzyme:
polymerase ARN separates both
stalks to make ARN pre-messenger.
It contains only a single stalk and
uses too an alphabet in 4 letters: in,
C, G and U (T included in the stalks
of DNA is replaced by U), its sugar is
the ribose and this chain of
nucleotide is made by
complementarity for the stalk of
transcribed or not coding DNA. It is
the transcription! ARN being
finer, it crosses easily in the pores of
pits to join the cytoplasm.
After this stage, ARN is subjected to the splicing which shortens it in the main
part to code one, only one protein because according to his splicing ARN can
code for other proteins.
And to finish, mature said ARN undergo the translation, made by means of the
genetic code and so to create the polypeptidique chain.
When the gene expresses himself in the way that the scientist wished
it, he so found the good GMO
And the Aquadvantage salmon?
In this case, the gene is directly modified in eggs of fish produced by the
company Aquabounty. Two genes are modified there with the aim of decreasing
their time of growth which passes from 3 years to 18 months.
Both modified genes arise from other fish. The first gene we modified, is the
gene coding for the growth hormone. Indeed, the scientist Aquabounty inserted
the gene which codes for this hormone at the salmon chinook. The second
modified gene is the one which codes for the said protein "anti-freeze agent" to
the pout, the Atlantic fish which so allows the GMO salmon to grow up all year
round while before it grew up only during certain periods of the year.
In conclusion, by modifying
two genes of the salmon, the
scientists allowed it to a stronger
growth. Indeed, by allying a
stronger growth hormone and an
anti-freeze protein, the salmons
saw their time of growth almost
divided by two.
Aquabounty’s goal is to feed the whole population with GM salmons but this
plan has been hampered by a wave of panic. Indeed, since the alert has been
spread, a lot of people have declared through social networks and the hashtag
“refusalmon”, not wanting to eat salmon anymore for fear of eating accidentally
a genetically modified salmon. This thought comes mainly from the influence
exercised by environmental organizations such as Greenpeace which has
declared that the risks linked to health problems which could be generated has
never been really known. Such a scandal can make wondering us about the
existence of previous signs that people refused to or could not see.
This is not the first time that an ecological disaster caused by an invasive
species occurs. Indeed, we have already heard about the Nile Perch brought in
Lake Victoria, in 1954, which had decimated half of the small aboriginal fishes
living in the Lake, in only 30 years. Another collateral damage is the one caused
by the blue tilapia since it has escaped, has caused the disappearance of
vegetation and some aboriginal species in
the Everglades National Park. Concerning
Aquabounty’s case, in 2014, a genetically
modified salmon escaped because of
another storm. Though this accident did
not led to any known negative impacts, the
company has established its security
installations more efficient.
JEREMY WADE WITH AN NILE PERCH
Aquabounty paid a $9500 fine imposed by Panama
authorities for repeated environmental security rules breaches.
Moreover, the company did not get the official licenses for water use and
water discharge before they started their operations. For all these reasons,
more and more people have doubts about the respect of laws and competence
of the company.
Another huge problem is that the supermarkets or fishmongers have no
obligation of labelling those GM fish.
The only way people have to be almost sure of not buying a genetically
engineered salmon was to go in supermarket which claimed not to sell these
"Science cannot prove that
this new gene-spliced
salmon is safe for human
consumption over a long
period of time," said
Darrell Rogers of the
Alliance for Natural
Health. "This recklessly and
Why this escape constitutes a huge risk?
As reported by FDA, the
sterilization of Aquabounty’s
salmons only works in 95%
cases. Considering that there
were 5000 salmon eggs in the
airplane according to “Arap
officials”, 5% of these salmon
represents 250 salmons which
could potentially proliferate if
they all survived.
Furthermore, some engineers
proved that the escape of 60 GM
salmons could generate the
extinction of 60 000 wild
salmons. Nothing was proved
that the GM salmons would not
resist in warm sea water. They
would then be free “travel”
around the world. According to
a study of The Memorial
University of Newfoundland
published in 2013 .
Salmo trutta and GM salmon from
Aquabounty, generate 43% hybrids
having the growth hormone
engineered. However, these hybrids
grow up even faster than their
genetically modified parents.
Indeed, the hybrid takes 2.1% of its
weight each day whereas a GM
salmon takes 1.9% and a wild
salmon between 1.5 and 1.7%.
Nevertheless, the growth speed is
not the only consequence. The
hybrid fish becomes also aggressive
due to the important need for food.
• GM salmons could outcompete the wild salmons and cause the extinction
of this species. But there are also other risks due to the voracity of these GM
salmons or other parameters.
• With their new type of genes, the salmons could settle in unusual zones
and bear lower temperatures. This transformation makes them stronger than
other aboriginal species.
The consequence of that could be the disappearance of smaller species.
• As seen before, the proliferation of the GM salmons with other species
could generate a genetic cross-breeding, especially that their large size makes
them more likely to proliferate.
• In keeping with Michael Hansen, a biologist of Consumer Union, the
consumption of GM salmons could generate allergies. The studies about this
risk by Aquabounty were too restricted. For this reason, he wanted the GM
salmons to be labelled in order to detect the negative effects but the company
refused and it is still uncertain that “Frankenfish” does not cause any health
• A last risk already present before the storm and concerning the animal
itself is that nowadays, animals are more and more consider as living beings
able to feel emotions instead of objects or consumptions goods.
Some studies demonstrated also that few GM salmons had potential damage
to organs causing in some cases cancers. So, it is a real ethic problem to
transfom an animal.
Considering that the Atlantic salmon is in the IUCN Red list and that 25%
disappeared this last 25 years, the GM salmon could easily decimate the last
wild salmons unless solutions exist.
William Muir explained that the development of GM salmon is
more sustainable than the wild salmon.
William M. Muir is
However, this “safe and sustainable alternative” has been
paradoxically exceeded by the need to preserve the wild salmon
which was considered before as “not sustainable”.
“Once these fish escape, it is impossible
to retrieve them. And it may be extremely
difficult to contain the negative
environmental impacts of escaped fish.”
according to Dana Perls, Food and
Technology Campaigner at Friends of the
Because of all the risks that the GM salmon represents, most of the wild
salmon breeders have decided to put, as quickly as possible, their breeding in
water tanks just as GM salmons before. This measure fits into the “Wild Salmon
On the other hand, once the GM salmon population will be significant, some
fish organizations already plan to sell these salmons and not necessary with
labels. But the wild salmon breeders and the environment organizations
vehemently object this idea.
Thus, both type of salmon could remain, nevertheless, the place where the
salmons grow up would be reverse and the GM salmon would become more
natural than the wild salmon itself.
We went to the CNRS (national center of scientist research) in France to
meet Françoise DANTZER who is a director of research about cancer. To work,
she regularly uses GMO : she explained us the conception and how the GMO
Let’s watch the video on the USB key
We also went to the IGBMC (the genetic and molecular and cellular biology
institute) Institut de génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire of
Strasburg where we met Florent COLIN
who is a project manager in the Department
of Neurogenetics and Translational
Medicine, and Stéphane ROTH who is the
manager of the Zebrafish department.
Zebrafish is a particular fish used by
research to create genetically modified
salmons, for their work about solutions for
human diseases. They explained us the
creation and development of the GMO and showed us how they do to collect
the eggs and modify them.
Here is an explication step by step with pictures to show you the creation
of the transgenetic eggs :
Plastic containers with adult
One male and one female separated
with a plastic separation between
In the morning, the fish manager
takes the separation between the
fish, when the male touches the
female’s stomach, it immediately
lays the eggs.
Then, they have to collect the eggs
with a sieve. The Zebrafish’s eggs are
transparent, this is really convenient
for researchers to do the fish
To finish, they put the eggs on a
Petri dish, and the researcher can
insert the gene he wants,
corresponding to his work’s subject.
To conclude this special issue, we cannot tell you what will
happen in the future for the transgenic salmons.
Sadly, the wild salmons may disappear because it’s already an
endangered species and there are more and more salmon
Many researches about solutions against the eggs escapes
are in progress. But not only, the researchers are actually trying
to find out if an organism genetically modified could exist in
the nature. It could be an animal but also a plant or something
else…we have to be careful!
In the USA, the GM salmon is not completely accepted by the population.
Many demonstrations take place, organizations like Greenpeace protest and
some supermarkets refuse to sell it.
Meanwhile a solution has been found, we encourage you to do your
maximum to preserve the planet and animals. The transgenic salmons are
probably healthy for us but the researchers are not totally sure, we can only rest
on the FDA’s
arguments. For the
environment, maybe it
would be wiser to stop
the GMO production
but with the constantly
it’s probably the only
solution for the future.
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