This new fish is a genetically modified salmon designed by scientists to grow faster and larger in about half the time it takes for a natural salmon to reach full size. It’s been a long time coming. The company Aqua Bounty first approached the FDA for approval over twenty years ago. The recent decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve this rather “strange fish” for human consumption marks a portentous and historic precedent for GMO foods. For the first time ever a genetically modified animal can be served up and eaten by consumers in the U.S. and without any notification or labeling. But not first without a good fish fight, consumers are up in arms.
It just so happens that the FDA regulates genetically modified animals under a new animal drug provision of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. They claim that the foreign DNA that was introduced into this salmon meets the definition of a drug. That’s a drug of a higher order–literally changing the very constructs of normal genetic sequences. In this case, the so called “drug” introduced is a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genes from the ocean pout, an eel-like creature, which keeps the transplanted gene continuously active. The introduced genes result in a faster growing, more robust salmon. But don’t we have even bigger fish to fry?
The FDA claims there have been rigorous scientific reviews showing these salmon are safe to eat. Yet the health impacts of eating something so foreign and new to the environment may take decades to uncover. The impact to wild salmon and the environment are of grave concern. What would happen if they ever escaped into the wild and bred with naturally occurring salmon, like a fish out of water? Would the slower growing, natural variety be able to survive intact? Several members of Alaska’s congressional delegation are extremely worried about the effects on the health of wild salmon as well as the consumer’s perception of salmon in general. I think there are already plenty of fish in the sea…
This landmark decision opens the doors to a cavalcade of new genetically engineered animals to come stampeding towards our dinner plates. According to Friends of the Earth, at least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish, along with chickens, pigs and cows, are currently under development. Scientists in China have already bred a new goat with great muscle and Scottish researchers have created a pig designed to resist the flu.
How will this landmark salmon decision affect the future of our meat and the animals that produce it? Are we at this moment in time changing the way we as humans will forever eat animal protein? Should we fish or cut bait?
To fish for solutions and speak out on this decision, there is a pool of resources to help you.
Visit Friends of the Earth Campaign for GE Free Seafood. As of this writing, Safeway, Kroger and over 9000 other retailers nationwide have made a commitment to not sell this Frankenfish. If your local store isn’t on the list, urge them to get on it.
If you are a retailer or restaurateur you can click here to learn why you should add your name to the list.
Center for Food Safety is suing the (FDA) to block the agency’s approval of the first GE animal destined for human consumption. You can help their effort by signing and then sharing their campaign to tell Congress to stop the approval of GE salmon. They also have a petition to restaurants and retailers to reject it as you would any cold fish.
Consumers Union makes it easy to call your Senators and demand that GMO’s including GE fish be labeled!
The old adage now goes, “You can give a man a fish or you can teach a man to fish, but if you teach a man to make a fish well that’s a whole different kettle.”
Let’s make sure this fish in troubled waters stays out of our food supply.