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Surprising Science

Genetically Modified Salmon

“Today, the ‘frankenfish’—a genetically modified salmon. Tomorrow, a ‘frankenpig’? Probably.” The Christian Science Monitor on the future of food in America.

“If the FDA approves of the fish, it will mark the first time a genetically manipulated animal would be allowed for human consumption in the United States. There’s a lot to digest in that last sentence, including the moral aspects of changing the natural DNA of animals. Cloning is controversial enough; that science reproduces exact copies of animals. Genetic modification, or GM, goes a step further and changes the characteristics of a plant or animal. Warnings about this ‘Frankenstein’ trend fall generally into two categories: food safety and impact on the environment. In the case of the GM salmon, critics worry that the fish could include dangerous allergens.”

On a wide range of contentious issues, academics and researchers publish work that pretends to offer objective evidence, but which on closer inspection turns out to be advocacy masquerading behind intellectualisms, scientific methodology, footnotes and citations, and erudite language. A recent example is a paper by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and colleagues arguing that genetically modified foods pose such a risk to life on Earth that agricultural biotechnology should be banned under a strict application of the Precautionary Principle.

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