Table of Contents:
- What Price Does The World Pay For Shunning Technology?
- Then there's the salmon
The anti-everything crowd is also using the Precautionary Principle – the fact that nothing on this earth is 100% assured – to stir up fear inside and outside of governments.
Then there’s the salmon, developed by AquaBounty Technologies. Developers took a North Atlantic salmon, added a growth gene from the Chinook salmon and a growth regulator from another freshwater fish called the ocean pout. The resulting AquAdvantage® Salmon, now 14 generations old, grows to market weight twice as fast as conventional North Atlantic salmon and then quits growing. It is also 5% more feed-efficient. It can be grown inland, too.
According to Ron Stotish, AquaBounty president and CEO, the U.S. imports $2 billion worth of North Atlantic salmon every year. Imagine the jobs that could be created.
Almost 20 years and $80 million later, AquaBounty is still trying to get FDA approval. This is despite government experts at various stages already having determined that AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe to eat as any other North Atlantic salmon and poses no risk to the environment. It would be the first transgenic animal approved for human consumption.
There’s exciting potential in the pipeline, too. There’s everything from gene editing to take the horns off cattle, to cows producing human antibodies, to goats producing malaria vaccine in their milk.
“The problem with the Precautionary Principle is not that it leads the wrong direction, but that if taken for all it is worth, leads in no direction at all,” Stotish says.
Some companies and researchers facing similar challenges are simply going elsewhere. They’re taking their talents and intellectual property to countries that judge innovation with common-sense precaution rather than the all-or-nothing Precautionary Principle.
One example is the transgenic goats developed by James Murray and his research team at the University of California, Davis. The goats produce milk with the antimicrobial human lysozyme, which shows promise to prevent the fatal effects of persistent diarrhea in millions of children worldwide. After battling to get to square one with U.S. regulators, the project moved to Brazil, where it’s being embraced.
Another flaw of the Precautionary Principle, Walton says, is that it can be embraced without considering the consequences of doing nothing.
“Inherent in the supposition is that new technology is somehow less safe than what already exists.” Walton says.
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