Mutant Fish Alert

It’s been a pretty slow week in the woods. It has finally stopped raining and that means I should be thinking about how to be productive. This is a throwback, I suppose, to working my whole life and feeling like something must be accomplished each day. I’ve given this a lot of thought lately since, after a year of settling in, getting to know the area (sort of), and just taking care of the house, I’m thinking maybe it’s time to get out and do something. The Pike County Dispatch is delivered to me on Thursdays and it is typically ignored and recycled. However, this week I decided to read through it and make an effort (albeit half-hearted) to find out what’s going on in the area and my immediate community. I also read The Hemlock News cover to cover. I very rarely read the letters to the editor but the title of one, “Mutant fish alert,” caught my attention for obvious reasons.

spawning salmon

After reading the letter that claims that “if only 60 genetically engineered salmon were released into the wild, the wild population of salmon would be extinct in only 40 generations!” I googled this and found that it is actually 40 years but the letter writer made his point. This led me to consider whether farm-raised salmon (for the record I only buy wild caught salmon) is genetically modified. Apparently they are not but they are fed genetically altered food. There’s a lot to think about here, like who is genetically altering fish and why?

Back to it being a slow kind of boring week for me. I called Blue Ridge Cable to see if my bill could be reduced (having taken advantage of some promotion a year ago, my bill jumped up $50 a month!). Please don’t give up on this yet — I will get back to the salmon. As it turns out, I could cut it by $5/month by taking advantage of yet another special (that by the way will increase my bill by yet another $70/month after one year). So, not going to reduce it but will get more for my money the phone representative explained. Consider what I’d have to give up — back to the slowest internet service, no more ESPNU, perhaps giving up other features that I really like. So, I decided to wait one more year and take advantage of the “special,” which provided even faster internet service, more HD channels that I don’t need and every pay channel known to humankind! I do, by the way, get the fish channel which, according to the Blue Ridge representative, is very popular up here!!

This morning I decided (it being a slow week and weekend) to see what was on the pay channels and there was “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” a film I wanted to see ages ago. I settled in with a mug of coffee to watch and actually found a connection to the mutant fish alert letter. The question in the film is whether farm raised salmon would freely swim upstream because it isn’t in their DNA or their parents’ DNA to swim freely. This is an interesting question. Of course, after many dramas, the fish do swim upstream presumably to eventually spawn. Other dramatic twists and turns later, it ends on a hopeful note that such a project is not out of the realm of possibility. I couldn’t help but think of the mutant fish letter while watching. There really is a bipartisan bill, H.R. 1667: To Prevent the Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States, and for other purposes. Apparently there are people who are trying to “overcome natural physiological reproductive barriers [using] techniques not used in traditional breeding and selection.” These “covered fish” are modified through DNA technologies (which may or may not be patentable according to this week’s Supreme Court ruling!) to carry out the above-mentioned reduction of reproductive barriers.

My slow week resulted in learning about some interesting things going on in Congress about fish, not to mention watching a very entertaining movie. This on top of the deer population control measures that are coming up for a community vote on July 13th and the sighting of one or two golden bear cubs in the community. Wow! I am learning more about wildlife than I ever thought I would!