The Massachusetts based company called AquaBounty is calling this fish the AquAdvantage, and although it is supposed to be similar to an Atlantic salmon, it also contains growth hormones from a Chinook salmon and an ocean pout, an eel-like fish. These growth hormones will allow the AquAdvantage to grow large enough for human consumption in just a year and a half, as opposed to a natural salmon that takes about three years to grow to its full size.
The FDA’s approval is opposed by food-safety activists, environmental groups, and the salmon fishing industry itself, who worry that the existence of this genetically modified fish could lead the way to many other potentially unsafe GMO animal foods. This fish was created specifically for human consumption, and yet even regular GMO foods have many problems and negative affects on human health. We cannot begin to imagine the havoc that genetically modified animals could have on our health and our world.
An official statement by the FDA noted that they came to their approval after conducting numerous scientific and environmental assessments, and they are confident that the altered fish is as safe to eat as a normal Atlantic salmon. However, there is no way of actually knowing if this is true, as we will not see the results of what eating this modified salmon could do to the human body until after it is actually being consumed.
Other concerns have been raised about how these GMO salmon could potentially affect other wildlife including the natural salmon and fish population. Experts have expressed deep concern over the AquAdvantage breeding with other natural salmon, but AquaBounty has said that all of the fish they are creating are female and sterile, so they would be unable to mate with other salmon. On top of this, they will be engineered in land-locked production facilities. AquaBounty hopes that by doing this, they will actually be able to help prevent overfishing of the Atlantic salmon.
One of the main critiques over the FDA’s approval is the idea that this could open the floodgates to genetically modifying other animals and species- each that would come with their own health and environmental concerns. Dana Perls, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth, noted, “It was a flawed and irresponsible approval… It sets a very dangerous precedent; given our federal government agencies are ill equipped to handle genetically engineered animals. I think it is a grave mistake we will come to regret.” Perls and her team are campaigning against this approval and trying to raise consumer awareness. “It’s clear: People don’t want to eat it,” she said. “We’re going to continue to work with grocery stores and retailers to continue to listen to consumers who don’t want to eat this under-studied, unlabeled GMO fish.”
An issue that comes up when talking about GMO products is the problem of labeling. The FDA said on Thursday that it can require additional labeling of GMO foods if “there is a material difference- such as a different nutritional profile” between a natural salmon and the AquAdvantage. However, the FDA determined that there was not a big enough difference between the two fish to require different labeling. For consumers, this means that they will have no idea if they are eating a GMO fish because it will not have a label that identifies it as such. Larisa Rudenko, the senior advisor for AquaBounty, says that consumers can tell the difference by looking for a phrase such as ‘wild caught’ on the label so that you know it is a natural fish. Essentially, consumers will not know whether the fish they are buying and eating is GMO or not, since the FDA will not require it to be labeled as such.
Although retailers such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Target have already refused to sell the fish, many people are working hard to block this FDA approval. The Center for Food Safety has already said that they will sue the FDA in order to prevent this ruling from going through.
The original article by The Washington Post can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/11/19/the-fda-just-approved-the-nations-first-genetically-engineered-animal-a-salmon-that-grows-twice-as-fast/
What do you think about this genetically modified animal? Should consumers know that the food they are eating is GMO? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!
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