New book chapter: Genome edited salmon: fish welfare as part of sustainability criteria


Blix, T. and Myhr, A.I. (2021) Genome edited salmon: fish welfare as part of sustainability criteria in Hanna Schübel and Ivo Wallimann-Helmer (eds.) Justice and food security in a changing climate, EurSafe 2021 – DOI, © Wageningen Academic Publishers 2021

Salmon is the most important species in Norwegian aquaculture, and in 2019 1,3 million tonnes of farmed salmon were produced along the Norwegian coast. The rapid growth of the industry comes with several challenges related to environment, economics and animal welfare, all hindering a sustainable production. The newest proposed solution to some of these challenges is to use genome editing. Some examples of research initiatives are sterile salmon, disease resistant salmon, and salmon with increased omega-3 production.

In Norway, all organisms generated by gene technology are regulated by the Gene Technology Act of 1993, which, besides safety assessment, demands that ethical justifiability, social utility and contribution to sustainable development to be part of the assessment of GMOs. Operationalisation documents for these non-safety criteria with guidelines have been developed, and furthermore case-specific reports on the contribution to sustainability of different genetically modified plants have been developed. Given the predicted launch of genome edited salmon into international marked, guidelines should be adapted for use on such animals as well. We do also identify that the topic animal welfare is missing in present guidelines and this must be included in the sustainability evaluation. We suggest The Norwegian Animal Welfare Act can be used as a guide for how to evaluate animal welfare, which includes aspects as health, feelings, needs and the intrinsic value of animals.

Photo: Matveev