How would you feel if you were told your food was manipulated with genetic engineering? For most of us, the thought would be quite unsettling.
But it’s not a myth — certain companies are trying to push the genetically engineered salmon agenda, hoping to start selling salmon whose genes have been manipulated to make them grow larger than their natural counterparts.
The FDA has said there are only minute differences between the two fish, but the fact is genetically engineered salmon hasn’t been around long enough to truly understand its implications. Like any other fish, genetically altered salmon could contain dangerous allergens. In addition, no one is sure of the effects these fish would have on the salmon’s ecosystem.
Studies have shown that there is a high risk for genetically engineered organisms to escape into the natural environment, and that genetically engineered salmon can crossbreed with native fish.
When these salmon escape or are accidentally released into the environment, the new species could threaten wild populations by mating with endangered salmon species, out-competing them for scarce resources and habitat, and/or introducing new diseases.
According to Agriculture.com, so-called “transgenic contamination”—where genetically engineered crops cross-pollinate or establish themselves in nearby fields or the wild—has become common. These contamination episodes have cost U.S. farmers billions of dollars over the past decade. In wild organisms like fish, it would be even more damaging.
In 2020, the US District Court for the Northern District of California declared the approval of genetically engineered salmon unlawful, based on several environmental law violations. As Ecology Action reports, the FDA permitted U.S. company AquaBounty to produce its GM salmon in Canada at an on-land facility in Prince Edward Island and in the U.S., at a plant in Indiana. AquaBounty also recently announced plans to build a third plant in Kentucky.
The court ruled that FDA failed to consider and study environmental risks of this novel genetically altered fish. The world’s preeminent experts on genetically engineered fish and risk assessment, as well as biologists at U.S. wildlife agencies charged with protecting fish and wildlife, heavily criticized FDA’s approval for failing to evaluate the impacts of lab-altered salmon on native salmon populations. FDA ignored these concerns in the final approval.
“This ruling stresses that a decision to approve GM salmon in one jurisdiction can impact the future of wild salmon in another. If AquaBounty continues to expand production, the chance for escape goes up and risk to wild salmon goes up,” says Mark Butler, Senior Advisor with Nature Canada and former Policy Director at Ecology Action Centre. “Endangered wild Atlantic salmon need every protection.”
More than 60 retailers, including Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Kroger, representing more than 9,000 grocery stores across the country, have made commitments to not sell this genetically modified fish, should it be approved by the FDA, Friends of the Earth reports.
Join the growing number of individuals standing up for the health of people, our planet, and its animals. Click below and demand the FDA commit to fully understanding the consequences of genetically engineered salmon before giving its stamp of approval.
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