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Japanese Creating "Super Tuna"

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the delicious-engineering dept.

Biotech 280

motherpusbucket writes "The Telegraph reports that Japanese scientists hope to be breeding a so-called 'Super Tuna' within the next decade or so. They have about 60% of the genome mapped and expect to finish it in the next couple months. The new breed will grow faster, taste good, have resistance to disease and will totally kick your ass if you cross them."

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280 comments

Michael Jackson's Frosty Piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28560687)

More than just a few days old, it's really frosty by now. Hell, maybe he got a sex change in which case his tuna is pretty cold too! Mmm.... MJ SUSHI!

Fish Overlords (0, Redundant)

Andruil (971627) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560717)

Since this is Japan are we sure that they won't be cybernetic super fish? All hail the new fish overlords!

Re:Fish Overlords (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561011)

That last bit is likely not far from the truth. Tuna is already a kind of superfish- they're a red meat fish with fast-twitch muscles that allow them to swim at up to 60 MPH for some breeds.

If the Japanese try to improve on them, we're going to need steel nets to catch them as they end up with southern migration patterns around both S. America and Africa......

Re:Fish Overlords (4, Funny)

vishbar (862440) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561189)

Since this is Japan, we would need to be more worried about tentacles. Anything Japanese that has tentacles is bad, bad news for schoolgirls the world over.

Re:Fish Overlords (0, Redundant)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561773)

You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads!

Obligatory..... (5, Funny)

segedunum (883035) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560721)

Have they bred them with frickin' laser beams though?

Re:Obligatory..... (0, Offtopic)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561727)

Stupidass n00b moderator. How the deuce can this be redundant if it's the first reference to frickin' laser beams? If you don't like it or if you feel it is too high a score, mod it too high. But to mod it Redundant is just dumb.

If some admin would be so good as to find out who modded this redundant and pull all their future mod points, you would be doing the slashdot community the greatest of service.

MOD POST UP in other words.

Re:Obligatory..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28561805)

I think mod was trying to make a funny. OF COURSE THEY'RE GOING TO PUT LASER BEAMS ON IT! It's a super tuna!

Re:Obligatory..... (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561963)

The joke has already been made for years on Slashdot. It's unnecessary to continue posting it. In fact, you might even say that it is redundant.

Obligatory (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28560723)

Will it come with frickin' "LASERS" ?

Obligatory (5, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560727)

Teenage Kanji Ninja Tuna

Re:Obligatory (5, Funny)

Lord Fury (977501) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561799)

Teenage Kanji Ninja Tuna

Teenage Kanji Ninja Tuna

Teenage Kanji Ninja Tuna

Heroes in my sandwich

Tuna Power!

We 3 Tuna (0, Offtopic)

MasseKid (1294554) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560729)

I for one, welcome our new tuna overlords.

Lets face it, super food will eat you, besides is obligatory.

Re:We 3 Tuna (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28560801)

"I for one, welcome our new tuna overlords."

If you want my ex, she's all yours.

Re:We 3 Tuna (1, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561795)

Not me. Corporate food either tastes like shit, or has no taste at all. Compare a grocery store tomato (ripened with phosgene gas) to a home grown one. The one from the store tastes like cardboard, the one from the garden is delicious.

Sashimi (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28560761)

After reading all those articles about how the ocean would be depleted of fish, Tuna being one of my favorite fish I approve, now they need to make a super version of whatever Tuna eat.

Re:Sashimi (1)

guyfawkes-11-5 (1583613) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560837)

After reading all those articles about how the ocean would be depleted of fish, Tuna being one of my favorite fish I approve, now they need to make a super version of whatever Tuna eat.

maybe, but what happens if the super tuna out competes and eats all non-super tuna?

Re:Sashimi (4, Funny)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561511)

maybe, but what happens if the super tuna out competes and eats all non-super tuna?

Darwin wins. See, tuna made themselves to tasty that:
1) They'd be overfished.
2) We'd see that, and then make them EVEN BETTER and plentiful.

Well done tuna. You've won the genetic lottery.

Re:Sashimi (2, Insightful)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561925)

...make a super version of whatever Tuna eat.

Exactly. If the Tuna are bigger, and less prone to diseases, they will be eating more, and not dying as much from (normal non-human) predators. And on that note, what about the other animals that eat tuna? will they be strong enough to still kill the tuna they normally do, will they eat less, or start eating younger ones and sort of usurping this whole plan? Plus if they are bigger and stronger, they will likely linger in climate zones they would normally leave sooner, also (rather drastically, which is the key point) altering the natural sequence of migrations and predator V. prey.

I hope they have a rather lengthy trial in some giant pool before they release these into the wild.

Cue that eco-maniacs (4, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560771)

Sounds like a good idea, rather then fish Tuna to extinction they're solving the problem by make better Tuna.

Now all we have to have to a bigass debate on slashdot about how this is going to make DRM zombie tunas while ignorantly forgetting the fact that "Natural" tuna have had their genes altered through hundreds of years of breading.. Basically like every other time DNA altering comes up in a story..

Re:Cue that eco-maniacs (5, Funny)

Lunoria (1496339) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560999)

"Natural" tuna have had their genes altered through hundreds of years of breading.

Tuna comes pre-breaded now? Talk about a time saver!

Re:Cue that eco-maniacs (1)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561559)

This might solve an issue with Tuna being over fished but if these super tuna are extremely efficient, how does it adversely affect other fish populations? I sur ehope they don't plan on releasing this inot the wild. There are plenty of examples of human intervention in nature causing havoc.

Re:Cue that eco-maniacs (4, Funny)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561605)

We should hunt them to near-extinction. Then they'll get put on the extinction list and all tuna fishing will be banned. Then my roommate will have to find a different terrible-smelling food to eat. . . in mass quantities . . . EVERY evening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:Cue that eco-maniacs (1)

sandbenders (301132) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561777)

Uhh, all breading/battering jokes aside, we don't breed tuna. We catch them wild. I assume that there are probably some tuna farms, but the vast majority of tuna are wild-caught and thus have not been shaped by the genetic engineering via selective breeding that has happened to cows, pigs, sheep, etc.

-SB

Tuna less scary than Corn? (1)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561809)

So far there's on idiot down thread to turned this into "let's starve the masses to save the planet" but overall the response has been a lot more reasoned than I expected. Seems DNA altered Tuna is less threatening than DNA altered plants.

I'm drawing a blank, does anyone else have an idea why that would be?

It would be nice if they could add (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28560789)

A modify the DNA so that few dozen Sharks Fins appear on the new fish.
Perhaps they could save the real thing from extinction.
Then again the 'Green Lobby' would rise up against 'Genetically Modified Fish' Sigh.

Tuna Porn? (3, Funny)

basementman (1475159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560867)

I predict they will genetically enhance the necessary parts to incorporate them into the weird porn industry that thrives in Japan. After the tunas career is up they can still serve his enhanced parts as a rare delicacy in restaurants.

Tuna Overlords (-1, Redundant)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560887)

May I be the first to welcome our new Tuna overloards...

No you may not Re:Tuna Overlords (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561019)

May I be the first to welcome our new Tuna overloards...

No you may not [slashdot.org].

May I be the first to say you can tune a filesystem but you can't tuna fish. Oh wait, someone beat [livejournal.com] me to it.

need an artificial ocean (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28560893)

As long as the ninja tuna are identified clearly so in the packaging, I whole-heartedly support this idea, but they should leave the wild tuna alone. I would even donate money to the Japanese if they would leave the wild tuna alone and create an artificial ocean with military protection so that the ninja tuna don't accidentally breed with wild tuna.

Monsanto of the Sea? (5, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560899)

The article talks about targeting aquaculture farmers, but I suppose it is possible the genetically altered tuna could escape into the wild and breed with wild tuna. Assuming the genes will be patented like Monsanto does with seeds, will fishermen be sued for catching such cross bred tuna?

Re:Monsanto of the Sea? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561069)

Also, how do you aquaculture tuna and keep the meat tasty? The reason tuna is so tasty is because of migrations thousands of miles long- which any aquaculture operation isn't going to have.

Re:Monsanto of the Sea? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561415)

Tuna still travel a long distance, they just do it in circles inside the nets. These fish have that high speed swimming need in their very genes a little location issue is not going to stop them.

Re:Monsanto of the Sea? (4, Informative)

tpjunkie (911544) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561595)

Shouldn't be too much of a problem. Unlike most fish, which are simply capable of ramjet respiration, (where water is forced over and through the fish's gills at high speed through swimming, as opposed to forcing the water over their gills via the mouth and operculum), with tuna this is obligatory, as otherwise the fish cannot obtain enough O2 from the water, and will for lack of a better word, drown. They swim constantly, even while "sleeping"

Re:Monsanto of the Sea? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561125)

The article talks about targeting aquaculture farmers, but I suppose it is possible the genetically altered tuna could escape into the wild and breed with wild tuna. Assuming the genes will be patented like Monsanto does with seeds, will fishermen be sued for catching such cross bred tuna?

Unpossible.
Farmers only get sued because they own & 'control' the fields that Monsanto seeds migrate to.
There's no way in hell any court will ding you for catching something that escaped into international waters.

Re:Monsanto of the Sea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28561533)

Farmers only get sued because they own & 'control' the fields that Monsanto seeds migrate to.

It wasn't even that. The farmer in question sprayed his seed crop with herbicide with the intent of selecting for the Monsanto patented gene. The urban legend that's grown up about his story is just silly. (Yes, I hate Monsanto. Yes, I don't like gene patents, but I also hate hearing false stories spread)

tuna doesn't taste good? (1)

sandmtyh (560543) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560911)

are they implying that the current tuna doesn't taste good? "The new breed will grow faster, taste good,"

Re:tuna doesn't taste good? (1)

davegravy (1019182) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561057)

They're probably trying to dispel the fear that super-tuna will taste bad because they are unnatural.

Re:tuna doesn't taste good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28561581)

They don't say "taste better." I think they're just pointing out that this will not only be a matter of bigger and faster; taste-tests will also assure quality.

very dangerous practice (2, Insightful)

drDugan (219551) | more than 4 years ago | (#28560979)

People have been altering the genetics of plants and animals for as long as we have practiced agriculture.

However, doing this with modern techniques can present incredible risks, possibly as large as the risks
we face from environmental damage. There are significant consequences to altering genomes of existing
creatures, and mostly, people would try to be as careful as possible. Most all of the changes we've made
have been exceedingly helpful.

But there are a few unavoidable truths:

1- Humans cannot contain nature indefinitely - so whatever we create will eventually enter the environment and compete with the existing species.

2- Genomes, the resulting organism, and the myriad interaction with other species, viruses, and environmental conditions
are far too complex for humans predict any outcome reliably. We are blindly stabbing at potentially world-changing effects.

3- "Monocultures" increase risk. Even if this program is wildly successful, and they create a huge supply of "perfect" Tuna - they will be a single species, and their success will be a risk - a single other species or virus could wipe them out.

We want to establish a complete aquaculture system that will produce fish that have good strength, are resistant to disease, grow quickly and taste delicious.

In many ways TFA sounds a lot like the mentality Monsanto has: make more food for more people with fewer resources. This is completely backwards, and will fail us in a devastating way long term. Food availability is the single most important factor that drives population growth. The solution we need is not to re-engineer nature to meet the demands of growing populations better, but rather to focus on moderating the needs of people to fit within a natural environment created over 2 billions years which we *cannot* recreate if we destroy it.

In the end, the environment we live in has much "momentum" and "power" to inflict damage to the human race than we have power to control and shift the natural world to our needs.

i'm glad that you saw jurassic park (-1, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561151)

i'm not so glad you think your thoughts are original

anyone in the 6th grade and above can, and probably already has, realized these fears. yes, when you use new technology you create new risks that never existed before. this has never stopped mankind from using nor technology, nor should it, ever, considering the benefits that massively out weigh the risks

go ahead and stack the benefits of using this technology against your risks, some of them fanciful. if you are intellectually honest and not too hysterical, you will realize it should be full steam ahead

luddism was never a very compelling argument, and it never will be

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite [wikipedia.org]

Re:very dangerous practice (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561239)

Food availability is the single most important factor that keeps people from starving to death.

FTFY.

If that's how you want to control the population, at least be honest about it.

Re:very dangerous practice (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561577)

Before you get too self-righteous, it's not necessarily quite that simple. First off, scarcity of food may possibly cause people (consciously or unconsciously) to have fewer children. I don't know the science on that one, but it's possible.

Second, it doesn't mean fewer people starving to death so much as it means more people (perhaps temporarily) not-starving to death-- and there's a difference. The whole point of an argument like the one the GP is making is, if you increase the food supply, the population increases to the point where people start starving to death again. If population growth is otherwise unchecked (e.g. by predators), then a population's numbers will grow until the available resources are not sufficient to support further growth. The two possibilities once that happens is (a) there will be some kind of equilibrium reached; or (b) the population will overuse the existing resources to the point where they basically exterminate themselves.

Which path do we want to take?

Re:very dangerous practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28561319)

Food availability is the single most important factor that drives population growth. The solution we need is not to re-engineer nature to meet the demands of growing populations better, but rather to focus on moderating the needs of people to fit within a natural environment created over 2 billions years which we *cannot* recreate if we destroy it.

quite right! We need less food being grown, not more. We need less people, producing less demand on the environment. I volunteer drDugan to be the first to step off the planet for the greater good. Another 5 billion of you plebes need to get in line behind him.

Re:very dangerous practice (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561393)

Oh no, it might be dangerous!

We better not do it then!

Moan panic aaaah fear shock trauma noooo!

Re:very dangerous practice (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561467)

Longwinded philosophical post. You've been warned.

One simple question. Presuming billions of years to 'create' the world and no higher intelligence overseeing at all (not even getting into religion here, just theism vs. atheism): why is human technology (technology coming from presumably evolved intelligence of humans) any different in the evolutionary process? And, if that leads to the destruction of the world, is that not simply evolution taking its due course?

In other words: if we are simply using the intelligence nature "gave" us and we happen to destroy the world with it, why should we use our "intelligence" to "help" nature/evolution/etc?

It seems to me that there are two competing worldviews, one that includes responsibility (which implies, somehow, an absolute outside of nature) and one that denies responsibility. On one hand, saying that we are responsible for not destroying the world by abusing it, and on the other hand saying that there is no higher power to answer to and we are just a product of evolution like any other creature for the last X billion years.

To me, it seems inconsistent. Either I am a product of evolution and there is no higher power to be responsible to, thus it doesn't seem like there is anything wrong with using my evolutionary-process-given intelligence to genetically modify the nature around me (after all, when the cavemen started using tools to start hunting better, were they not simply "being themselves" and acting as any other animal would? Even if it made some species extinct by eating too many... or something...?), or there is a higher power I am responsible to, in which case my worldview will significantly change... and, in fact, there is a right way to use my intelligence and a wrong way to use my intelligence, and it's not based on survival.

I guess one could argue that how humanity as a whole uses its intelligence/intellect/technology/whatever has direct bearing on survival... however, if evolution is a completely unintelligent process, then if we misuse intelligence and end up wiping ourselves (and whatever else) off the face of the earth, then it seems to me that would simply mean we weren't "fit" for survival. I don't see, from the perspective of that worldview, what loss there would be in losing the world we can't recreate if we destroy it. There's no inherent value in it, is there?

This is not supposed to be openly offensive or derogatory of your worldview. I really do want to know what your thinking is on it and am not simply trying to say "Your worldview is stupid." :)

Re:very dangerous practice (1)

KingOfGod (884633) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561945)

...why should we...

We shouldn't. People just do, because their sense of purpose is driven by that goal.

Saving the environment is just the same as praying to a god, only different.

Because we're not ready yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28562015)

Humanity is not sufficiently advanced to no longer be faced with the issues you bring up.

How can we effectively maintain neutrality while attempting to manhandle nature for purposes that directly serve humanity?

When humans understand their inherent centrality in this World, and become responsible enough to maintain that centrality (while utilizing all this awesome "intellect" people cite when making arguments like this) to 'tweak' settings on the "Big Machine", the argument will dissolve.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are 4 years old. It occurs to you that cookies are the penultimate foodstuff, and no foods other than cookies matter, for any purpose, public or private, visible or invisible.

Imagine, also, that you are endowed with *some* of the creative potential and scientific capability to affect this change in yours, and the the lives of all other 4 year olds, forevermore.

Now, fast-forward to age 16, when you obese, toothless, malnourished (yes, you can be all three), and by effect of your actions, your peers and their children are similarly afflicted. Because of the alteration of what I will call "the continuum of persistent reality", you have altered your own ability to maintain compatibility with any other continuum, and thus have altered the ability of any other organism affected by your choices to regain their own, rightfully entitled arc along a projected path.

In short, you fuck it up for everybody, whether they like it or not, whether they recognize the problem, or not.

Re:very dangerous practice (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561535)

In many ways TFA sounds a lot like the mentality Monsanto has: make more food for more people with fewer resources. This is completely backwards, and will fail us in a devastating way long term. Food availability is the single most important factor that drives population growth.

Actually, one thing you overlook is that studies have repeatedly shown that as a population surpasses a certain level of wealth, population growth goes down. This mentality is an attempt to increase the net wealth of human population around the world, so while it will increase food production it will likely, also, reduce population growth.

Re:very dangerous practice (3, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561561)

I completely agree.

Now, having said that, the size of fish (cod definitely, and I would assume tuna as well) has declined due to industrial fishing practices wiping out the larger subspecies entirely and then moving down the chain.

I can't see any objection to reviving a subspecies that would have existed had sane fishing practices existed - say, by using the same technique as for gene therapy and splicing in genes from extinct varieties - provided it is done with caution.

It wouldn't matter too much if such a revived subspecies escaped, as the environment has evolved on the basis that it is present. Creatures further up the food chain might start reviving, for example.

It might also start to deal with "dead zones" (oxygen-free regions in the seas and oceans), which are largely a product of overfishing resulting in excessive algae, the lives, deaths and decaying of which simply eliminates all the oxygen present. Reintroducing a stable, self-sustaining food chain to the oceans would be dangerous but still much safer than the current disaster.

The problem is, this is NOT what is being done. Instead of recreating a subspecies that should have existed but was obliterated due to the stupidity of the seafood industry, they are creating a whole new subspecies according to market tastes. And when the market shifts (as it routinely does), the old stocks will be worthless and dumped into the wild in an uncontrolled way that has nothing to do with restoring the ecology and everything to do with maximizing profit.

They are also not going to make any effort to develop anything further up or down the foodchain, which means you'll have something that throws off whatever balance does exist in the current environment.

Anyone here remember the old ecology computer games, like "foxes and rabbits", where you specify the initial number of each and the available area of grass for the rabbits to feed on? Of those who do, how many of you succeeded in producing stable environments? It turns out that it's damn hard when the number of elements is very small, it's only viable when you've an extremely high level of biodiversity.

Here we have the three elements of the original game, with the food for the tuna replacing the grass, the tuna being the rabbits and the human consumers being the foxes. If, after all this time, you still can't find good starting numbers, what makes you think the fish markets (who don't give a rat's arse about the environment) are going to do any better?

Re:very dangerous practice (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561567)

Humans cannot contain nature indefinitely - so whatever we create will eventually enter the environment and compete with the existing species.

We call that evolution.

Now, that's a glib answer, and it's true that we can't simply excuse away any kind of meddling that way. But you seem to be under the impression that, outside of man's interference, nature is out there standing still. It's not. The world around is is constantly evolving, and genetic patterns are being introduced, flourishing, and failing all the time. While introducing new variations may well be dangerous, it is not (in the general case) more so than what happens without human intervention.

Genomes, the resulting organism, and the myriad interaction with other species, viruses, and environmental conditions are far too complex for humans predict any outcome reliably. We are blindly stabbing at potentially world-changing effects.

Welcome to life in a complex system. Anything we do, at any time, could randomly trigger a lethal series of events beyond our comprehension.

"Monocultures" increase risk. Even if this program is wildly successful, and they create a huge supply of "perfect" Tuna - they will be a single species, and their success will be a risk - a single other species or virus could wipe them out.

While you're right in the general case, you're mistaken about the circumstances about this specific instance. They're talking about replacing hunts for wild fish with aquaculture. If anything, this will save the genetic diversity of wild fish, as they're no longer at risk of being hunted to extinction.

Food availability is the single most important factor that drives population growth.

This is flagrantly incorrect. The population of the U.S. is an immediate and obvious counterexample. Humans don't actually (organically) breed like viruses; we only consume like them.

You disgust me (1)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561619)

In many ways TFA sounds a lot like the mentality Monsanto has: make more food for more people with fewer resources. This is completely backwards, and will fail us in a devastating way long term. Food availability is the single most important factor that drives population growth.

Seriously, you do. I'm all in favor of trying to limit population growth, as the earth does have limited resources. Most of Europe has birthrates below replacement level, and I haven't heard of any food shortages over there. But you do realize how lack of food limits population growth right? It's not lower birth rates because people in some of the most food insecure nations of the world have the highest birthrates.

Starvation. Primarily of those too weak to defend themselves. That means small children, and often their mothers. Spend some time reading about what starvation does to the body sometime. It's a terrible way to die, and even if it weren't you're cheering for the death of children to stop the growth of population. How can you live with that?

Re:You disgust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28561891)

Thank you

-John

Re:very dangerous practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28561713)

People have been altering the genetics of plants and animals for as long as we have practiced agriculture. However, doing this with modern techniques can present incredible risks, possibly as large as the risks we face from environmental damage.

Agriculture is responsible for the majority of environmental damage and has been long before anyone knew about genes.

Re:very dangerous practice (4, Interesting)

WeirdJohn (1170585) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561807)

I see potential danger. Tuna are already a highly refined predator. What if the cages break and a group escape? Then you have a disease resistant fast growing population of predators loose in the seas. What could this mean for other species? Could this throw the ecological balance way out of whack?

I've worked in population modelling in the past, and predator/prey ecology is complicated, chaotic and inherently unpredictable. Forget Lotke-Volterra models, although they are nice equations, they are not realistic in real world situations where there are many species with many interactions. Super-Tuna would be another apex-predator, as nothing else can catch them except humans because they swim so fast. Messing with apex predators ALWAYS does weird stuff to ecology, and it's never good.

Re:very dangerous practice (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561829)

1.) True, and they should certainly consider escape into the wild a certainty.

2.) Factual, but human-modified genes are no more inherently risky then natural mutations - just we do it faster.

3.) Ah ha! I've got you here - we'll just overfish this particular kind. No limits, nothing. Just give them some obvious mark for ease of sorting, and we'll have no problem hunting them to extinction if we must.

Your closing paragraph is the worst. It's wrong to improve our food per acre and food per hour of work? So we should go back to hunter-gatherer where everyone spends every minute of their life getting food? Because everything we've done since then from making farms to mechanical harvesters lets us get more food for more people with fewer resources. I'm afraid your argument just doesn't hold water.

Re:very dangerous practice (1)

BCGlorfindel (256775) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561933)

Yes, let's all hide under rocks and hope we don't change the world into the bringer of our doom in the process.


People have been altering the genetics of plants and animals for as long as we have practiced agriculture. ...
the resulting organism, and the myriad interaction with other species, viruses, and environmental conditions are far too complex for humans predict any outcome reliably. We are blindly stabbing at potentially world-changing effects.

Genetic research doesn't seem so radically new in that context anymore, now does it?


The solution we need is not to re-engineer nature to meet the demands of growing populations better, but rather to focus on moderating the needs of people to fit within a natural environment...

Tell that to the people in the world who are starving. You'll find that the only way to further reduce their 'environmental' foot print is by dying. If that looks like a solution to you at least have the courage to come right out and say it.

No matter how you cut it the only options our race has ever had has been re-engineer nature or population control. The ages were the later was chosen have never been pretty.

Re:very dangerous practice (1)

linguizic (806996) | more than 4 years ago | (#28562005)

"Monocultures" increase risk. Even if this program is wildly successful, and they create a huge supply of "perfect" Tuna - they will be a single species, and their success will be a risk - a single other species or virus could wipe them out.

Yes monocultures are a risk, when you're entire food supply depends on them. I have a feeling that you read the Omnivore's Dilemma and took from it what you wanted to hear rather than reading what Michael Pollan actually said. It wouldn't be the first time someone did that. I've run in to it quite a bit actually. The biggest danger that monoculture presents is when you apply it to the particular link that corn plays in the industrial food chain. If a new disease came around that affected corn, it would affect ALL the corn in the system. That would then affect the cattle, the chicken, the sweeteners we use for EVERYTHING, etc... I seriously doubt that frankentuna there would be the keystone of some new industrial agricultural food chain.

Yes, modifying living creatures can be dangerous. But all of your arguments are just the modern eco-ludite platitudes that don't really have any content. The metaphors that you use to portray the environment really speaks volumes about where you get your information. I suggest you stop reading Mother Jones and pick up a text book on ecology and genetics.

super yeast (2, Interesting)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561063)

Can't we start with something simpler and get some super yeast meant for beer!

Re:super yeast (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561683)

What do you want in a beer that you aren't getting? If you bump up the alcohol percentage, it isn't legally a beer anymore, and it seems like you should be able to find something you like given the variety available.

As far as productivity, hops are a bigger problem than yeast.

Re:super yeast (1)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561873)

The closest to "super-yeast" I know of are wine yeasts which go up to somewhere in the 21-24% region. If you use an ale yeast first, to get the right waste products, errr flavour, then restart with something like this to ramp up the neurotoxins, you should be fine.

However, if you just want regular ale, I would recommend SkullSplitter [wikipedia.org].

mo3 down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28561131)

first avoid going 1t just 0wnz.', ra8som for their

Tuna Schmoona (2, Informative)

Zephiris (788562) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561149)

Even if it lowers the cost, it won't especially matter much, will it? You can't entirely remove tuna from the ecosystem as a consumer, and they get a lot of mercury in their diet, pass it along. Eastern little tuna are lower in mercury according to Wikipedia, but they're specifically mapping and going to be modifying bluefin tuna.

This doesn't terribly seem like the most sensible idea to invest large amounts of time and money in if it's just going to produce more fish that you can't safely consume greater amounts of. You've got mass lead poisonings coming out of China; in 10 or 20 years, will you get mass mercury poisonings thanks to Japan and this project?

All about the food chain (1)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561731)

I suppose there's no logical reason they couldn't eventually figure out a way to modify the Tuna to be herbivores. The whole reason they have such high mercury levels is they're at the top of a relatively long ocean food chain. Mercury accumulated in higher level predators because they accumulate almost mercury what was in the bodies of whatever they eat, which have in turn accumulated all the mercury from that ever their food ate and so on.

Of course I have no idea if Tuna raise of soybeans and rice would taste nearly as good, and plenty of people prefer good taste to avoiding toxins.

Cross them?! (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561231)

Cross them?! Cross them with what? Other tuna species? Piranhas? Cmdr Taco?

Or, make them angry? Why would they be, err... angry, at anything?

Godzilluna (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561443)

Tampering with the genes of the tuna shall only create a monstrous and awesome tuna, and it will writhe and flip all over Tokyo, reducing it to rubble.

Do *what* if you cross them? (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561673)

The new breed will grow faster, taste good, have resistance to disease and will totally kick your ass if you cross them.

Uh, does jabbing them in the mouth with a barbed hook not count as "crossing them?" I don't think that's what the tuna fishermen would want.

Clive Cussler book (1)

eeek77 (1041634) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561687)

Clive Cussler gave some reasons NOT to do this in his book "White Death."

Yes, it's fiction, but still....

Destroys the marine ecosystem through a fish monopoly, etc.

Enjoyable book, though.

Re:Clive Cussler book (1)

cbelt3 (741637) | more than 4 years ago | (#28561903)

My thoughts exactly. The concept of a 'frankenfish' which deliberately accelerates evolution for shortsighted purposes is a baaaad idea with a bad end for all of us.

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