“The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty Technologies regarding AquAdvantage Salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat.” – CBC News (source)
19 countries in Europe just banned the growing of Genetically modified crops in their countries, and dozens upon dozens of other countries have done the same. Across the pond, however, it’s a different story, one in which the United States government continues to make its best efforts to stop the labelling of their genetically modified products and push out more GM food despite the health and environmental concerns cited by various countries and their scientists. The latest GM product that’s been deemed fit for human consumption in the US is salmon.
That’s right, genetically engineered Atlantic salmon will now be farmed for human consumption. It’s the first ever approval for an animal that has had its DNA scientifically modified.
The salmon was made by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, and they made it by altering its genes so that it would grow faster than farmed salmon. The company says that the salmon can grow to market size in half the time that conventional salmon can, which would save a lot of money and resources for those companies. The question remains, would it make salmon cheaper for consumers?
According to Reuters, “the fish is essentially Atlantic salmon with a Pacific salmon gene for faster growth and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout that promotes year-round growth.”
Things might not be all that easy for AquaBounty though, as more and more people continue to reject any kind of genetically modified food. For example, Kroger Co, one of the largest grocery chains in the US, said that it has no desire or intention of selling genetically engineered salmon. Whole Foods and multiple other chains also expressed the same sentiment.
What About Other Countries?
As far as approval in other countries, that probably won’t happen given the fact that GM products are banned in most of them to begin with. Canada is currently reviewing a submission from AquaBounty technologies, but a decision has not yet been made as to whether it will be approved.
It’s been five years since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first announced the product and guess what, it will not require special labeling because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it’s equivalent to conventional farm-raised Atlantic salmon.
This has been the logic of the U.S. government when it comes to GMO labelling. But regardless of whether they think these foods are equal to their organic counterparts, should people still not have the right to know what they are eating? Do we not deserve the right to choose? If the government says they are equal, but a number of published studies are showing clear cause for concern, what is going on here?
For example, a team led by Kristen Brant, a scientist at the Human Nutrition Research Center Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, carried out one of the most sophisticated meta-analyses of the “organic-versus-conventional food” nutrient-content debate. It was published in Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences in 2011, under the title, “Agroecosystem Management and Nutritional Quality of Plant Foods: The Cause of Organic Fruits and Vegetables.”
This study documents and explains significant differences in favour of organically grown food. This is just one of multiple examples.
The point here is that, given the many studies which suggest these foods are dangerous to consume, a label should be require that illustrates whether GMOs are in the contents. This way, consumers would at least be aware of the potential dangers of these products. Even if there was no science contending them, people should still have the right to choose, not be forced to pick blindly.
Another great example as to why countries have banned GMOs comes from a study published last year in Environmental Sciences Europe. It found very concerning links between GM food, Roundup herbicide (now present almost everywhere in our environment), and cancer, along with liver and kidney damage. While this may not be the case for GM salmon, it’s clear countries are uncomfortable with the idea and again, that’s why 19 countries recently completely banned.
The list of why GM food, and now salmon, is of concern is long, but here is an excellent summation of the issue by David SuzukiL
We are now unwittingly part of a massive experiment. . . . Essentially, the U.S Food & Drug Administration has said that genetically modified organisms, or food, are basically not much different from regular food so they should be treated in the same way. The problem is this, geneticists follow the inheritance of genes in what we call a vertical fashion … within a species. What biotechnology allows us to do is to take genes from this organism, and move it, what we call horizontally, into a totally unrelated species. . . . What biotechnology allows us to do is to switch genes from one to the other, without regard for the biological constraints. . . . It’s very very bad science. We assume that the principles governing the inheritance of genes vertically applies when you move genes laterally or horizontally — there is absolutely no reason to make that conclusion. – David Suzuki, Geneticist
Additionally, GM foods have been illegally placed onto the market using fraudulent science and corruption to get them improved. There is more on that in the book linked below in this article, and this is why GM salmon is of such concern.
Here is a study that found a “very strong and significant” correlations between GE crop growth and 22 different diseases.
There are even Wikileaks documents that show the U.S. planned to “retaliate and cause pain” to countries refusing their GM products.
So, when it comes to genetically modified fish, you can see why there is a great cause for concern here. With all of the awareness that’s been created, this product probably won’t be favoured by the masses. That being said, since there is no labelling of GMOs in the United States, people might not even know what they are buying, and that’s not right.