Mariculture's Brave New World


Natural selection evolved to selective breeding leading to biofortification only to be trumped with genetic engineering for advancing the Blue Revolution.  A sequenced genome could produce better management of fish stocks and greater understanding of pathogens and resistance to disease, leading to increases in growth, reproduction, feed-conversion efficiency, and oxygen and temperature tolerance.  The Atlantic cod genome has been sequenced by a Norwegian consortium and the Atlantic salmon, with a genome three times the size, will be made public next year along with the catfish genome.  

Monsanto has genetically modified (GM) soybeans to produce oil containing omega-3 fatty acids.  One year ago, the FDA ruled that GM soybeans are safe; thus, easing pressure on fish stocks which hitherto have been the principal source of omega-3 fatty acids.  The positive potential of GM laboratories creating plant mutants for feeding humanity also applies to fish.   AquaBounty Technologies recently dominated the media with FDA approval of their GM salmon to enter the food supply.   Upon injecting genes from two other species they got their “frankenfish” to grow to market size of about 8 pounds in just 18 months that is half the industry standard of 36 months.  

Consider the potential if GM cobia, the “Tropical Salmon”, could be harvested in 6 months?  Aquatic animals’ ability to spawn millions of progeny as compared to terrestrial animals’ litter of at most a dozen is destined for fast-track genetic exploitation.  This promises exponential advances for feeding the future masses in a “Brave New World” of mariculture.