Science wins for now

Scientists at FDA say that genetically engineered salmon would not have a significant impact (FONSI) on the U.S. environment and safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon . This should clear the way for the fish to be farmed, adding a less expensive and healthier option to world diets. It will also take some pressure off badly stressed wild fisheries and generally make our environment better than it would have been. It is great that this report finally came out. 

There is lots of similar good news that is not well reported. For example, I think it is remarkable that U.S. CO2 emissions have dropped to twenty year lows and that we have become the world leader in reducing emissions. Few people seem to know these things and I find little in the media. There used to be a lot more when we were not doing as well. Of course, one of the best things in the environment in my lifetimes is the natural gas revolution.

More on fracking.

We are accustomed to bad environmental news and it is easy to provide. Much of it is just plain BS with scary images – like the tap water starting on fire in the pseudo-documentary “Gas Land.” A lot of it is based on fear of change. Most of it is true, however, but it is truth out of context. A natural environment is constantly changing, with some things coming and others going.

As trees in a forest grow bigger, the wildlife it supports changes. I remember the controversy on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. It is one of the most studied places in the U.S. because of the interaction of wolves and moose. The different animal populations and the forests are always changing. The wolves wiped out the coyotes and impacted the beaver population. If you wanted to document loss, here it is. On the other hand, the wolves at first prospered, by killing moose. Again, look at the moose herd and you can document loss. The decline of the moose numbers allowed forests to regrow, but you could document the loss of moose forage. You get the point. Change is constant. Change brings losses and gains. If you look at only one side of the equation, you can easily paint the picture you want.

For the U.S. in my lifetime, we have had mostly good ecological news. Lakes are cleaner today than when I was growing up. Forests are healthier. Wildlife is so robust some are even becoming nuisances. Of course, there have been losses. Our task is to judge the balance.

This balance goes for every choice we make. Choices should be informed by information, but there is rarely a choice with only a plus side. This salmon is a good thing, on balance. I like salmon, but it is a little expensive. I look forward to the being able to eat this new salmon.

NB – I posted this on a different site and included some comments that I think make the post better.

More on Biotech here & here, plus a little on bioenergy.