GMO salmon, another first
Believe it or not, the feds have given the go-ahead to genetically modified salmon that will be grown in tanks in Panama from fish eggs produced on Prince Edwards Island. Expect to find these first GMO salmon — indeed the first GMO food critters of any kind — in supermarkets in about two years or so. The only problem is, you may not be able to tell the GMO fillets from the others, because the Food and Drug Administration is not requiring salmon grower Aqua Bounty to slap a GMO label on their AquAdvantage fish.
That could be because there is no apparent consumer demand for genetically engineered salmon, and there’s plenty of consumer concern that it could be bad for our health, the environment or both.
Consumer and environmental groups, which are already challenging the FDA ruling, argue that the safety studies are inadequate and that the health and quality of wild salmon could be threatened if the GMO fish escape into oceans and streams.
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, said the FDA ruling “disregards the vast majority of consumers, many independent scientists, numerous members of Congress and salmon growers around the world who have voiced strong opposition.”
Aqua Bounty is apparently motivated by the profit potential of being the first to grow salmon bigger and faster through genetic engineering than their non-GMO competitors. But they may not wish to highlight the GMO status on their label.
Consumers who wish to avoid consuming GMO salmon should therefore steer clear of the “AquAdvantage- Aqua Bounty” label. With luck, the best wild salmon producers will be smart enough to slap a “non-GMO” label on their fish, to point out the difference.
To find the best information about wild salmon, or any other sustainable seafood, your most convenient source is Seafood Watch, whose website (seafoodwatch.org) and phone app will help you choose from what’s available at your fish market. Now that I have the app on my phone, I don’t have to guess which seafood is best for me. When I reach the fish counter, I just reach in my pocket, click on the Seafood Watch app, type in “salmon” or any other possibility available, and follow their advice, which is color coded: green (go), yellow (maybe OK) and red (no way).