By Madelyn Kearns, Associate Editor
Published on Monday, November 23, 2015
Not long after word came down about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision to approve the sale of AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon, reports of public discontent came rolling in.
A New York Times readership poll found that 75 percent of respondents would not eat salmon that had been genetically engineered. According to Friends of the Earth, over 60 grocery store chains operating 9,000 storefronts across the United States have already made vows to not sell GMO or genetically modified products. Safeway, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Aldi are all among those retailers refusing GMO items.
“Despite FDA’s flawed and irresponsible approval of the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption, it’s clear that there is no place in the U.S. market for genetically engineered salmon,” said Lisa Archer, Food and Technology program director at Friends of the Earth, in a prepared statement. “People don’t want to eat it and grocery stores are refusing to sell it.”
Approximately 1.8 million people have sent letters to the FDA opposing the approval of what many letter-writers referred to as the “frankenfish” (i.e. GM salmon), reported Friends of the Earth. Early rumblings indicate that the FDA may not require GM salmon products to be labeled as such, said the NGO. “However Alaska, a top wild salmon producer, requires labeling of genetically engineered salmon and momentum is growing for GMO labeling in a number of states across the U.S. and at the federal level,” the organization explained.
A growing facet of the scientific community has argued that genetically modified salmon may pose environmental and public health risks, including damage to the wild salmon population, noted Dr. Pete Knutson, owner of Loki Fish Company and Commissioner on the Puget Sound Salmon Commission.
“There were over 250 million wild salmon harvested in Alaska and Puget Sound this year. Why should we put this sustainable resource at risk for the benefit of a few multinational corporations who will, sooner or later, introduce GE salmon into their floating feed lots? Americans will be eating synthetic salmon, thinking they are receiving the nutritional benefits of wild salmon,” said Knutson.
“There’s no place on our dinner plates for genetically engineered fish. We will continue to work to ensure the market, from grocery retailers to restaurants, continues to listen to majority of consumers that don't want to eat this poorly studied, unlabeled genetically engineered fish,” Archer concluded.
Per Friends of the Earth, at least 35 other types of genetically engineered fish, like that produced by AquaBounty Technologies’ AquAdvantage, are under development.