Other GE fish or animals your company is working with?

“Our specialty is aquaculture. Fish are among the most efficient converters of feed-to-food in the animal kingdom – even more than poultry, for instance. They’re also fairly easy to produce.

“We think seafood is a healthy source of high-quality protein. And with salmon you get the bonus of high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, as well.

“We’ve looked at other (fish) and can do the same thing in things like trout, tilapia, sea bass, sea bream and other finned fish to improve efficiency.

“The reason we think this is important is aquaculture is growing about 10 percent per year as seafood consumption is growing. And the world population is also growing.

“The U.S. (aquaculture) industry is fairly small: catfish and trout. The United States imports most of its fish and, in fact, all of its salmon. We see this as an opportunity to help meet our food security needs in an environmentally-sustainable way.  

“Even qualities like disease resistance, taste and other properties are amenable to molecular-based approaches. There’s a huge opportunity here.”

I’m wondering about cost-benefit of GE fish in terms of the depletion of ocean fish stocks. How cheap are these fish to raise, right now?

“The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN writes reports every year, as do other agencies. They show that wild-caught fisheries have been at about 90 million tons for about the last 20 years.”

FAO fisheries information here

“Many of the important economic food species of fish are over-fished and some are threatened. Some groups talk about the possibility of extinction because the fish are so overfished that the breeding populations are below the level needed to sustain the species.

“That’s a reality – not public relations. There’s general agreement that overfishing is a fact of life and the fisheries have to be better managed.

 “It’s also a fact that world consumption of seafood is increasing. And seafood is a fairly economical and cost-effective to provide a high-quality protein.

“For a world population that will reach 9 billion people in, roughly, 20 years, many emerging middle-class economies like those in India and China are demanding more proteins. There must be a way to meet that need. Obviously, overfishing the oceans is not the answer as it’s a diminishing return.

“Well, we can cultivate fish economically. We can grow fish in land-based systems at a cost that’s competitive with the existing industry. And the cost to farmers could drop even further based on adoption rates and expansion of the practice.

“Most importantly, we could grow these fish closer to major population centers. That would reduce transportation costs and the carbon footprint associated with it. Currently, transportation costs add as much a $1 per kilo to the salmon produced.

“The ability of aquaculture is pretty well established. That’s why groups like USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) – which enunciated an aquaculture policy this year – see this as a major opportunity growing needs for global food security.”