Thursday, June 4, 2015

GMO Salmon for Dinner?

[Food and Technology]

Aquabounty Technologies has been working on their GMO Salmon for a very long time and it is now before the FDA for final approval.  This will be the first transgenic animal created for human consumption and therefore, it is surrounded by considerable controversy.
Even if this GMO Salmon makes it through the FDA, one of the larger questions is whether the public will accept this bizarre genetically engineered blend of Chinook Salmon and Ocean Pout (an eel-like fish) that grows twice as fast (16-28 months vs. 36 months for Atlantic Salmon) and requires less food to do so.

The FDA’s previous conclusions (reaffirmed by 2012 Draft Environmental Assessment) were that this genetically engineered fish was as safe to eat as conventionally farmed Atlantic Salmon, which is not saying much if it is commonly suggested that you should not eat farmed Atlantic Salmon more than a few times a month.

Another concern, much like the uncontrolled (airborne pollination) spread of Monsanto’s GMO corn, is that these pen-raised genetically engineered fish will most certainly escape into the wild just as Atlantic Salmon do today. But what will be the environmental consequence of this?.

In response to this GMO Salmon FDA approval process, a new bill, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, is circulating through congress. This bill requires any GM food ingredient be labeled.  This bill, is itself, highly controversial, with the consumers' right to know on the one hand, and a significant burden on food producers and retailers on the other.

Due to mounting consumer pressure thus far, more than 60 grocery retailers across the US, including giants like Kroger and Safeway, have committed to either not selling the GMO Salmon, or at least labeling it if they do choose to sell it.  Noticeably absent is CostCo, however,  other supermarkets catering to more dietary and health conscious consumers such as Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Aldi, are a few on a list of food providers refusing to stock their shelves with this, or other, transgenic food products. 

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