HUMOUR — Monsanto scientists began working towards making genetically modified shrimp for the popular restaurant chain Red Lobster, but created more than they had intended. “Our marketing team found that people were not eating jumbo shrimp just because of the time it took to remove the tails,” states Eric Johnson, head researcher at Monsanto Inc. “We wanted to create an Ultra-Jumbo shrimp for today’s busy, seafood-seeking American.”
According to Monsanto, work toward the genetically modified organisms (GMO) began in September of 2011, and the crew had been lacking in progress until now. “We had really been struggling. For some reason, decapod crustaceans were more difficult. We thought they were just going to be like small, ocean-dwelling corn.”
It wasn’t until May of 2013 that Johnson and his team made a breakthrough; they were able to produce a shrimp that was three times as big and had a looser tail, enabling faster, more satisfying consumption. But what surprised the scientists was the shrimp’s new biochemistry. Their experiment created a type of shrimp that contained none of the biological elements recognized on earth. “Basically all life on Earth relies on 26 chemical elements, but all life is built on six of these elements: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur,” explains Johnson. “But the GMO Ultra-Jumbo shrimp we had created contained an entirely new element we had never seen before.”
Named by the institution that created the new element, Crustogen contained in the shrimp is now being studied by researchers around the globe. “We’re really excited about it,” states Gary Peltier, head of Canada’s Monsanto GMO research in Ontario. “Because it’s so new and different we have no idea what this element could hold for our world and what we could do with it.” While little research has been done so far, Johnson’s team is making fast headway on their new element. “What we have already found about the element’s structure is that it most closely resembles plutonium,” states Johnson. “But we’ll have to run more tests before we are one hundred per cent sure of all of our research and testing.”
Red Lobster has been reported to proudly endorse the new Ultra-Jumbo Shrimp, aiming to launch a full “Crustogen Extravaganza” following FDA approval of the GMO shrimp. “We’re really excited for this advancement in shrimp technology,” states Linda Bergstrom, public relations officer for Red Lobster. “Our customers have been waiting a long time for accelerated shrimp consumption.” The FDA is scheduled to begin reviewing the shrimp for human consumption this summer, and with Monsanto funding it’s estimated it will pass this fall, with “Crustogen Extravaganza” to follow in the winter.