The impact of genetically modified salmon: from risk assessment to quality evaluation
AbstractIn this paper we address the complex and controversial issue of the possible commercialization of a genetically engineered (GE) salmon for human consumption: the AquAdvantage Salmon®, by one of the leading US aquaculture corporations, AquaBounty Technologies Inc (ABT). This analysis follows and deepens our reflections on the notion of impact assessment, in the framework of biotechnology for food production. In the first part, we consider the epistemic and normative implications involved in the regulatory process of the transgenic salmon, starting with a review of the scientific research on genetic engineering applied to the taxonomic family Salmonidae. We explore the inextricable relationship between facts and values, and their mutual dependence on the high stakes implied in the controversy. In the second part, we challenge the identification of impact assessment with future developments, the risks and promises of the GE salmon. We propose a shift to from prediction to diagnosis, and we provide a brief account of the driving forces that bring the transgenic fish into the world, along the path-dependent trajectory of technoscientific innovation. We conclude by proposing to open a collective space for reflection about the criteria for evaluating the quality of GE salmon in our present.