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Frankenfish: Coming to a Table Near You

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December 28, 2012

On December 21, the US Food and Drug Administration released a draft environmental assessment finding that genetically engineered (GE) AquaAdvantage salmon pose no risk to the environment. This takes GE Salmon one step closer to ending up on your dinner table. So is it safe?

The document claimed that the salmon “will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States.” It also claimed that the GE salmon, the first ever intended for human consumption in the United States, is unlikely to harm populations of wild salmon. This is the first of its kind: the first “transgenic” animal allowed into our food supply. It may sound harmless enough and could even appear as a huge asset to food crisis. The GE salmon is touted for being able to help grow our food supply as the salmon is genetically altered to grow at twice the rate of its unaltered counterparts. However, what does this mean for the average consumer?

Just like genetically modified produce, there is no legislation in place to enforce labeling of this new GE salmon. This means unless the package specifically states that the salmon contained within is GE-free, you will have no way of knowing what you are eating.

The safety of the new genetically altered fish is being questioned by a number of health organizations, non-profits, and legislators, but it doesn’t appear to be slowing the progress the GE salmon is making towards your dinner table. The concerns about the GE salmon range from overcrowded farming practices with the inclusion of more antibiotics and alterations, to the GE salmon making its way into the natural salmon population and overpowering the native fish. The fish grow at twice the rate of a traditional salmon and could cause issues if introduced into the wild.

Health concerns are another area that nonprofits and legislators are hitting on. The sad truth is that the only studies being done on the safety of consumption of these genetically altered fish are being done by the company who is set to make large sums of money off of their sale. The FDA has left it up to AquaAdvantage to prove the safety of the fish which makes it easy to see why there is concern and outrage among health advocates and consumer labeling groups.

GE salmon has yet to get final approval so it is not too late to voice your opinion. Be sure to contact your local legislature with your concerns or suggestions. The food labeling revolution is well underway and GE salmon is on the agenda.

What is your take? Do you see any issue with genetically altered fish hitting your supermarket shelves? Would you want to know your salmon was GE before consuming it?

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