Thursday, May 24, 2012

Salmon is Salmon

Salmon is salmon. At the end of the day, economics will win.”

That's what Kakha Bendukidze, who made his fortune manufacturing heavy equipment in Russia, said to the New York Times.  He invested heavily in genetically modified salmon via AquaBounty because he wanted to diversify. 

While the naive comment oversimplifies a complex issue, the first part of it is dead wrong.  I hope the second part is true, but I bet he's referring to a much more linear kind of commerce. 

GMO or man-made salmon is not your salmon next door.  It's twice as big and hungry than regular.  Since GMO salmon eat feed made from ground up wild forage fish, the impact on already depleted forage fish populations would be huge. 

Meanwhile, if one of these monsters escapes into the wild, the fish has the potential to push aside wild salmon for resources.  Alone these very real impacts could be devastating; together they could be catastrophic.

As far as economics, which type are we talking about?  I hope it's the economics that show that forage fish are worth almost twice as much in the water than taken out.  Or the kind of economics that show that the ecosystem services -- the inherent value of nature to people -- of healthy wild salmon far outweigh the bounty one company can make producing Frankenfish.

I hope those are the economics he's talking about but somehow I doubt it.  Still, if those economics win, that would be a happy and real victory.

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