FDA Considering Approval of Genetically Modified Salmon

September 7, 2010

For those of you who follow food news, today’s Washington Post featured an article regarding the impending FDA approval of genetically modified Atlantic salmon. Researchers, who’ve studied the fish for ten years, assure us that the modified version looks and tastes exactly the same as the real deal. That may be so, but has anyone researched the long term effects of eating such fish on human health? What about the ecological effects? I understand that salmon is over consumed, but can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a better, more natural way of solving the problem.

Being a nit-picky lawyer, I have so many questions about the details surrounding the approval of genetic modification of salmon (if approved). For example, when buying fish at the store, will I be able to tell that the salmon was engineered, will it say “GENETICALLY MODIFIED PRODUCT” on the package label? I already have such a hard time navigating the waters of seafood- farm raised v. wild caught v. sustainable v. over-fished v. v. v…you get the point. Walking up to the fish market counter can be rather daunting these days and consumers have to know to ask all the right questions in order to find out where their fish is coming from.

When reading the article, I couldn’t help but think of the similarity of genetic modification to factory farming’s manipulation of cow and chicken growth (by using growth hormones) which leads to sickly animals which require antibiotics which results in a multitude of health and ecological risks and problems (contaminated runoff water, drug resistant strains of bacteria, tainted meat, etc). Although genetic modification of salmon involves gene replacement, rather than growth hormone, I guess I’m sort of waiting for something to go terribly wrong- giant mutant salmon swimming the high seas, devouring whole ships and crews or some sort of John Legend scenario where humans who eat the salmon turn into flesh craving zombies. Gross. Maybe I’m letting my hyperactive imagination run wild, but for now, I’ll stick with my non- genetically modified fish (thank you very much!), so long as the package is clearly labeled and I can actually decipher what I’m buying. By the way, thanks FDA for making the life of the American food consumer that much harder.

To read the full article, click here.

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