The AquAdvantage salmon is the first genetically engineered animal available for purchase in North America. The mad scientists at AquaBounty Technologies spliced it together with parts from the Atlantic salmon, Chinook salmon, and the Ocean pout to produce a GMO fish that grows scary fast.
The modified salmon is currently sold completely unlabeled in Canada, so consumers are unable to know whether they have eaten any part of the several metric tons reportedly sold to date. AquaBounty is also working on expanding its distribution to the United States.
GMO synthetic spider silks are making headlines in the textile industry. Various biotechnology companies have spun out spiderless silk creations by genetically engineering silkworms, alfalfa, E. coli, yeast, and even goats to produce spider proteins.
The very first of these products—made with microorganisms—are entering the market now. From the runways of Paris to the sporting goods store near you, several household-name brands have been tangled up in the web of a GMO spider silk producer, as has the U.S. military. These new products are a good reminder that GMOs are not just in your food—they creep into clothing and home goods as well.
Many products use hair-raising GMO yeast to transform one ingredient into something completely different. In nature, yeasts typically consume sugar and produce alcohol or carbon dioxide. GMO yeasts are transfigured in order to produce synthetic flavors, fragrances, oils, proteins, and other outputs that go into our food and homewares.
While synthetic flavors derived from petroleum and other non-living things must be labeled as artificial, the FDA allows the products of genetically modified yeast to be labeled as “natural.” GMO yeasts are already producing compounds found in citrus, vanilla, patchouli, stevia, collagen, and leather, soon to be joined by those found in hops, egg white proteins, dairy proteins, and more.
Mosquitos may be the spookiest creepy crawler yet because there are a number of projects focused on creating and releasing genetically engineered mosquitoes. This could ultimately lead to their use in gene drives. This technology disrupts the natural rules of Mendelian inheritance by causing one trait to “overpower” another, ensuring inheritance of the engineered trait. It has the potential to suck the life out of entire species and may even lead to eerie applications in biological warfare.
These little vampires are being genetically engineered in ways that use gene editing to terminate local mosquito populations. Several communities in the U.S. and around the world are currently fighting open-air trials, hoping to prevent these GMO bloodsuckers from being invited into their backyards.