Stephen Eades – GM salmon marks a watershed in the future of the oceans – Nov 15

The decision by the United States to licence the farming and consumption of GM salmon marks a watershed in the future of the oceans and mankind’s relationship to them. Henceforth mankind will be involved in a new sphere of genetic manipulation, and the naturalness of the oceans will be lost forever.

GM salmon may seem like only a small event, but it marks the beginning of a new future. It is a future over which many, including Marinet, hold great concern.

Essentially, it marks:

● The end of wild populations and races of salmon. Most are already effectively extinct in the NE Atlantic due to their relentless over-fishing and the impact of salmon fish farms in their breeding areas. The only wild population still surviving in the northern hemisphere in any degree of abundance (accompanied by sensible management) is in Alaska. In the long run, the Alaskan population’s future must now be in jeopardy should GM salmon escape to the ocean and thereafter corrupt its genegene A string of the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule that is the fundamental unit of inheritance, so it is variations in the make up of this molecule in the gene that controls variations in an organism's appearance and behaviour. Genes are found in the nucleus of the organism's cells. pool.

● GM production and fish farming, rather than the restoration and sensible management and harvesting of wild populations, is now increasingly being accepted as the basis for future fish supplies. The oceans are no longer the domain of the hunter because the wild fish stocks appear to be in irreversible decline. Hence if fish are to remain a source of food, fish farming and GM manipulation of these farmed species are destined to take their place. As already exists on the land, the oceans are now on the cusp of marine farming.

● If the foregoing is true, this means the end of the natural world in the oceans as we know it. Many believe the oceans have already lost their former abundance and character (see C. Roberts, An Unnatural History of the Sea), and this development marks a turning point from which there appears little prospect of a return.

● Marinet believes, despite the evidence, that none of this is inevitable. Mankind does have a choice about the nature of life on this planet, and the role of our species in its future. Geologists call this the Anthropocene era   the time of human influence. We can live in harmony with the natural world, or we can dominate it and bend it absolutely to our will. Marinet believes that if we elect for the former and harmony, then our species will survive and prosper. If we elect for the latter and its continuous domination and manipulation by us, we have set off down the road to our extinction.

The survival of the natural world, undiminished and restored to abundance, is therefore the key idea, the key principle, that determines our destiny.

If we destroy the natural world, as we are now doing, we are also destroying ourselves. We need to think long and hard on this fact.


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