Do We Want Genetically Engineered Salmon on our Plates?
Have you heard of Frankenfish? It’s a name given to AquaBounty Technologies’ genetically engineered Salmon. AquaBounty Technologies is a small American biotechnology company that increases the productivity of aquaculture: creating fast growing specimens (such as salmon, trout, and tilapia eggs) by genetic engineering. It seems like something you’d hear in a science fiction novel. It’s real though, and their GMO fish has been in the making for more than 17 years. Their engineered salmon has been patented and goes by the name of AquAdvantage Salmon. These GMO salmon grow twice as fast as other farmed Atlantic salmon and therefore reach “market size” in less time.
Fortunately yesterday, the Senate passed an amendment which establishes a reserve fund for the labeling of these genetically engineered fish if sold in stores. Colin O’Neil, Director of Government Affairs for the Center for Food Safety said “Passage of the Begich amendment serves as a clear statement that the Senate supports the labeling of genetically engineered fish. The American people have spoken loud and clear that genetically engineered fish must be labeled and today the U.S. Senate agreed with them.”
Senator Begich also reiterated that over 60 countries currently require the labeling of GE foods including Japan, Australia, Brazil, China, Russia and the European Union. But, the U.S. still does not.
And, earlier this week, there was an announcement that grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Whole Foods and a few others (which add up to about 2000 stores) committed to not sell genetically engineered seafood if it is allowed on the market. Yeah!
Now that they plan to label them, what’s the problem?
The bigger issue is that these fish are ‘produced’ to begin with. 1) There is not sufficient research done on the safety of human consumption of these fish and 2) The impact that this may have on our environment and other pieces of our food supply are cause for concern.
In the Environmental Assessment by the FDA it is stated that escape (from the farms) is unlikely and that these modified fish do not pose a threat to our environment. However, millions of farmed salmon do escape into the population of wild salmon. The AquAdvantage Salmon are all-female. What if they breed with other native species? Would we know which are GMO, and which are not? If these hardy, fast growing fish escape, what will this do to the wild salmon populations, especially those that are already in decline because of farming? And, what will our health impacts be if we eat genetically engineered fish? This would be the first-ever genetically engineered animal for us to purchase, serve and eat. Having allergies related to GMO foods is not uncommon, will this become another allergen food? And, nutritionally, I couldn’t find any benefits.
As Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety put it: “the GE salmon has no socially redeeming value. It’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment.”
Though I like to be aware of what is happening with my food, I wouldn’t consider myself a food activist. Yet, this may impact our food supply, with no future “fix” possible and hence I felt compelled to write this post. If you would like to sign the petition to tell the FDA to not approve GE Salmon, prior to the April 26th comment deadline, go to ResponsibleTechnology.org. It took me 2 minutes.
As many will voice their concerns about this issue, I will continue to update this blog to provide resources for quality, nutrient dense, real food… including seafood that has not been injected with dyes or other additives, on my Resource List page. Over a year ago, an administrator at the wonderful ‘community’ oriented school my daughter attends, who is very particular about his food sources, introduced me to VitalChoice.com (VC). I have since found that several other friends order their seafood from VC online and all have been very happy with the quality. So, if you are not fortunate enough to have a local source for good seafood you may want to take a look at VitalChoice.com as they do ship nationwide (FYI – they offer new customers 10% off their first order (see notes on my Resource List page) and if you sign up for their Newsletter they will email you their specials and sales each month that you wouldn’t see otherwise). And, if you know of another source for quality seafood that is fresh and not colored, etc. please let others know by commenting below.
Let’s enjoy our wonderful, nature given, wild salmon!
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abc.net.au:Fish Farm Escape article,
Frankenfish Nutrition from CenterforFoodSafety.org,
Salmon and Mango by Sklathill on flickr,
Salmon Farming by mrpbps on flickr,
Salmon by pepemczolz on flickr,
disclosure: cmp.ly/4 and cmp.ly/5
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