The Politics, Public Health and Environmental Concerns of Genetically Engineered Salmon

So-called “Frankenfood” — genetically-modified organisms meant for human consumption or use as animal feed — has been making headlines again. This time, the buzz is over the FDA’s recent completion of their evaluation of the first genetically-engineered (GE) salmon meant for human consumption, the AquAdvantage salmon. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget is now reviewing the evaluation, which puts the AquAdvantage salmon one critical step closer to finding its way into farms and onto plates. While the GE salmon would be the first genetically-modified animal approved for human consumption, it’s not the first genetically-modified organism (GMO) used for food; data from 2009 indicate that 93% of soy and cotton, and 86% of corn grown in the U.S. are GMO [1]. There are a number of other common GMO crops, and GMO rice will likely become available soon.

Alaskan King Salmon

DNA Amplification by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

What does the diagnosis of hereditary diseases, the detection and diagnosis of infectious diseases, personalized DNA sequencing, DNA cloning, genetic functional analysis, genetic fingerprinting and DNA-based phylogeny have in common?

The all employ a widely used molecular technique called polymerase chain reaction or PCR.

The idea was conceived by Kary Mullis in the early 1980s and was first described, albeit briefly, in an article investigating the mutation that causes sickle cell anemia [1]. The details of the method and its uses were discussed in greater detail over the next two years [2-3]. PCR revolutionized molecular genetics by allowing rapid duplication and analysis of DNA.