Costco, Red Lobster speak out on GM salmon

Reaction to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon last week has been mixed. Scientists and others support the FDA’s ruling that the salmon is safe to eat – the agency did in fact take 20 years to research production of the fish at facilities in Canada and Panama.

However, many legislators, environmental groups, retailers and restaurants do not support the approval, and do not plan to carry AquAdvantage farmed salmon.

Safeway, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Aldi are among the 60 U.S. grocery chains that have committed not to sell GE salmon, according to Friends of the Earth (FOE). FOE and other groups are urging Walmart to make the same commitment, and were concerned when Costco recently left the door open to selling AquAdvantage salmon.

However, since the FDA approval, Costco issued this statement to SeafoodSource: “Although the FDA has approved the sale of GM salmon, Costco has not sold and does not intend to sell GM salmon at this time.”

Meanwhile, most restaurant chains have largely avoided the controversial issue, so it is unclear whether AquAdvantage salmon will be sold in restaurants once it is on the market. However, Red Lobster, which operates 705 seafood restaurants worldwide, was clear on its position.

“We do not currently serve and have no plans to serve genetically-modified seafood,” said Red Lobster in a statement provided to SeafoodSource. “Red Lobster is committed to sustainably sourcing seafood. We’re also committed to transparency and providing guests with access to information they need to make informed decisions that meet their dietary needs and preferences,” according to the statement.

Because the approval is so new, Red Lobster customers have not asked questions about GE salmon, according to the chain.
Meanwhile, legislators, NGOs and consumer advocacy groups say they will push for legislation requiring labeling of GE salmon, after the FDA said labeling should be voluntary.

“I am livid at the FDA’s announcement to approve genetically engineered ‘salmon’—what seems to be more science experiment than fish or food,” said Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in a statement. “I have adamantly opposed the approval of GE salmon, both for the health of Americans and the sustainability of our fisheries, but now that the decision has been made, the next step must be to ensure that Americans know what they are consuming. I have introduced both a bill and provision in the appropriations process to mandate the labeling of Frankenfish, and it is more imperative than ever, after this potentially disastrous decision, to make sure they become law.”

Likewise, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said the marketing of GE salmon products should be transparent. “Consumers who want information about GE salmon should be able to obtain it, either on the label, in printed materials associated with the product, on a web site or through other communications,” according to a CSPI statement.



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