PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A company named Aqua-Bounty has received approval to alter the genes of salmon so that it will grow bigger and faster than farmed-raised salmon.
The salmon can grow to market size in half the time. The FDA gave the company the go-ahead and in a couple years consumers may be eating the genetically modified fish.
Water, food, and good care, that is the natural recipe Manuel Gaona uses to grow fresh Tilapia here in the valley. He says it's not that easy to get these fish to a pound and a half.
"Cleanliness, feeding them proper food, and making sure there's enough oxygen," said Manny Gaona.
Now science is supplementing nature. Gaona is wary of the news that the FDA has approved genetically engineered salmon for human consumption.
"Leave nature alone, nature is going to take care of itself one way or another, I just don't believe in it," he said.
Experts say nature isn't producing enough food to feed everyone, and changing the DNA of Salmon to make them grow bigger and faster is one solution to feeding the demand for the fish.
"What has been done is one little piece of the gene has been moved over in the salmon to make it so that it would grow. What you're eating is a larger salmon, that's all it is, so there's nothing in there that isn't in Atlantic salmon or king salmon, so there's no difference," said Dr. Terry Simpson.
The FDA requires the genetically modified salmon be raised in hatcheries in Canada and Panama. Meanwhile, this valley Tilapia farmer boasts his fish has a quality only mother nature can provide, the flavor of freshness. It remains to be seen what affect genetically altering salmon will have on the palate.
"The big issue that I have is how does it taste? If it tastes great, I'm going to like it. If it's just a big old lousy piece of salmon it's not going to go very far," said Dr. Simpson.
It'll be at least a couple of years before we find out what genetically modified salmon actually tastes like and when it does hit store shelves you may not even notice it. Right now, there's no law requiring the label to indicate that the food is genetically engineered.