FDA Genetically Modified Salmon Decision Sends Consumers and Fishermen Up the Stream without a Current

Salmon has been the in food for several years now. It’s reputation as a high-level source of omega 3 fatty acids and lean protein has helped push salmon to the number two slot in the U.S. seafood market. But, the FDA’s approval of genetically modified salmon may chill American’s passion for the fish.

The AquaAdvantage Salmon grows twice as fast as a normal salmon because of the introduction of a growth hormone gene from another type of salmon. Under its screwed-up approval system, the FDA relied upon data supplied by the applicant AquaBounty to determine the fish’s safety, nutritional value and environmental impact. Obviously, the corporation had everything to gain or lose when it presented results of its own studies under this inane process.

Now that the fish has been let out of the pond, we have to wait until something really bad happens before we can rein it in again, which may be too late or legally impossible. After all if an unsterilized AquaAdvantage Salmon escapes and starts breeding, who is going to know until these monster fish have already taken over the natural population.

Nobody is likely to make a definitive link between a health problem and the consumption of AquaAdvantage Salmon, either. For example, if there were to be a rise in mercury exposure if the fish soaks up excessive toxins during its rapid growth, you might suspect consumption of AquaAdvantage Salmon, but you could never ever prove it and would have absolutely no legal leg to stand on to demand its removal from the market.

Fishy Labeling Laws

The FDA does not require the AquaBounty to label its AquAdvantage Salmon because, “AquAdvantage Salmon is not materially different from other Atlantic salmon,” according to the FDA's website. The fish grows twice as fast as other salmon, how is this not a material difference?

In fact, in order to get a patent, the inventors of the faster-growing fish had to prove that it was a novel technology, and so AquAdvantage Salmon had to be different than its natural counterpart.

Regardless of whether your reasons are health, environmental, religious or ethical, you should have the right to know whether a company has genetically tampered with your food.

Sadly, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo and his buddies are more interested in protecting big corporations than giving you the tools necessary to make very personal decisions about the food you eat. The DARK Act, passed by the U.S. House in July, would put the rights of corporations like AquaBounty above your right to know what is in your food.

Fish Fraud

You may think you are eating wild-caught salmon, but do you know for sure?

In October, Oceana uncovered widespread fraud in the salmon industry. The organization tested the DNA of 82 samples of salmon labeled as “wild-caught” taken from grocery stores and restaurants in three states. 43 percent were actually farm-raised.

Salmon mislabeling is clearly unfair to the consumer. You chose to pay a higher price for wild salmon, and that is what you have a right to receive.

This bait-and-switch also puts fishermen who sell the real deal at a substantial disadvantage. The cost of fishing is much higher than the cost of farming fish, and hence the steeper price of wild-caught salmon in the market.

I have no doubt that farmers raising AquaAdvantage Salmon will be able to undercut prices even more. The unlabeled genetically modified fish will compete gill to gill with conventional farmed fish and, considering the rampant mislabeling, also with wild-caught salmon.

The FDA's decision to approve genetically modified salmon smells rotten.

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