The production of genetically modified salmon has been officially approved by the FDA. Here’s what you need to know about it.
You’ve probably heard some of the controversy about genetically modified foods. Whatever your stance on the issue, for the most part, the debate has been confined to produce like fruits and vegetables.
Now we are moving into a new realm, with the recent approval by the FDA of genetically modified salmon – the first animal to be a product of genetic engineering. This new development opens up a whole new set of ethical issues, as well as health concerns.
What does this mean for you? Well, for starters, you may not be seeing GE salmon on store shelves just yet. But when you do, you probably won’t even know it, since the U.S. does not require genetically modified foods to be labeled as such! (Does this freak you out? Make your voice heard by commenting on the FDA notification page.)
Here are 5 things you should know about GE salmon:
1. Consumers want—but aren’t getting—mandatory GE labeling.
Though polling has indicated that the vast majority of people want genetically engineered food to be labeled as such, the FDA is leaving the decision up to manufacturers. The practical effect of this is that either you probably won’t be able to tell whether farmed salmon is GE or non—AquaAdvantage salmon will simply be called “Atlantic” along with other farmed salmon.
2. We don’t yet know the consequences of growth hormones for human health.
This is one argument being made by AquaBounty: Since their Atlantic salmon have hormones of an Ocean Pout (a type of eel) and growth hormones from a chinook, or Pacific king salmon, they grow much quicker and so consume less of the feed that is made up of wild fish. However…“The data submitted by AquaBounty isn’t adequate when it comes to unintended health consequences in regards to growth hormones,” says Mike Hansen, a senior scientist with the Consumers Union.
3. Genetically modified salmon could hurt wild salmon populations.
Another concern is that these animals could potentially escape into the wild and damage ecosystems…. Experts…are also concerned that this is precedent-setting, and now other genetically altered animals will be green-lighted, without the FDA requiring scientifically rigorous methods of environmental risk assessment.
4. Farmed salmon—GE or not—is problematic.
Farmed salmon are kept in crowded net pens in the open ocean, so they have to be treated with antibiotics and at times pesticides. These flow into the water, along with their excrement, creating dead zones….
5. The bottom line: Buy wild.
In fact, we have no idea what the unintended consequences will be for human or environmental health right now, and we might not until it’s too late. But in the absence of mandatory labeling, there’s no way to tell GE- from non-GE farmed salmon. Your best bet, if you really want to be sure your salmon is non-GE, is to eat wild Pacific salmon.
Check out the full article at Rodale’s Organic Life…