A salmon that grows to market size twice as fast as normal. Dairy cows that produce 15 percent more milk. Beef cows that grow 20 percent faster.
What do these hyper-productive animals have in common? Thanks to injections and implants (in the case of cows) or genetic engineering (in the case of salmon), they contain artificially high levels of sex or growth hormones.
Are these hormones dangerous to the humans who eat the food or drink the milk? The food industry says no — and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agrees, at least when it comes to cows.
The FDA, which regulates the use of hormones in livestock, hasn’t yet decided whether it will approve the sale of a genetically engineered salmon patented by the biotech company AquaBounty. If the salmon — which is wired to produce growth hormone year-round, instead of just in the spring and summer — gets an OK from the agency, it will be the first genetically engineered animal to wind up on your dinner plate. (Genetically engineered fruits and vegetables have been around for years.)