As humans march relentlessly forward in the pursuit of knowledge, I'm always looking behind my back to see where the simple life left the trail. Sound vague or slightly sketchy? It gets worse.
I heard just the other day, on CBC Radio, that a company called Aqua Bounty is asking our federal government for permission to market a genetically modified (GM) salmon. The modified gene allows the salmon to produce growth hormones year-round. This new über salmon grows about twice as quickly as a normal salmon, thus entering high school at the age of seven. Think about a 5'11", 200 pound Sidney Crosby entering the NHL at age nine, that's a GM salmon worth catching!
Aqua Bounty has taken a gene from a fish called the 'ocean pout' and introduced it into salmon. It's a bit freaky. We can either march forward wildly, or put the brakes on and question what the hell we're doing to organisms that have evolved harmoniously over millions of years. Part of me wants to see genetic modification go crazy. I'd like to grow a spare arm between my shoulder blades so I can finally scratch the middle of my back. I'd like to see salmon genetically modified so as to be more easily caught...perhaps by introducing some DNA from Conrad Black. In fairness to the salmon I'd like them to fight back by modifying themselves to be more slimy and not so easily caught, perhaps finding something useful in Brian Mulroney's genes. It worked for Mila (and they have Ben to prove it!).
The federal government is evaluating Aqua Bounty's proposal. For the moment, salmon will have to mature the old fashioned way. They won't be allowed to drive cars around waterfalls or give the finger to fishermen, at least not this week. It may take years before an ocean pout inspired salmon leaps onto your plate, maybe never. Are you concerned that you're not getting enough ocean pout in your diet? Worry not fellow coneheads, here's another fishy fact taken from Wikipedia...
"In June 2006 the Unilever company announced that it would use genetically modified yeast to grow antifreeze proteins based on a gene from the ocean pout, and use it to improve the consistency and storage properties of its ice cream brands."
Unilever is the same company that gives us Lever 2000, the soap for washing all of our 2000 body parts. Might want to make that Lever 2002, in case we grow gills and a dorsal fin. Those extra parts will be useful when we swim with the GM salmon that inevitably will make their way into our lakes, rivers and oceans.
Salmon. Pout. Sidney Crosby. Soap. The Mulroneys. Ice cream.
These things seem like strange bedfellows, yet here they are in one intertwined blog posting. I wish that I knew more about genetic modification. I wish that life were more simple. I don't know if we'll ever be able to turn the clock back or, at least, keep some purity in our world. What I do know is that the idea of home-made ice cream, lovingly turned in a rock-salt chilled ice cream maker using ingredients like fresh cream and locally grown fruit, is pretty appealing.
I'd prefer to eat an ice cream with a smile on my face, rather than a little pout. How about you?