The marine environment fights back


Sadly, there will be too many using GM salmon to make money despite the damage to the health of their customers. However, here is an article that moves the story on and shows that there are many who will resist this GM salmon product for what it is.

Here are the retailers who won’t sell AquaBounty’s GM salmon
Here are the retailers who won’t sell AquaBounty’s GM salmon

By Madelyn Kearns, SeafoodSource associate editor

Published on Monday, November 23, 2015

Not long after word came down about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision to approve the sale of AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon, reports of public discontent came rolling in.

A New York Times readership poll found that 75 percent of respondents would not eat salmon that had been genetically engineered. According to Friends of the Earth, over 60 grocery store chains operating 9,000 storefronts across the United States have already made vows to not sell GMO or genetically modified products. Safeway, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Aldi are all among those retailers refusing GMO items.

“Despite FDA’s flawed and irresponsible approval of the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption, it’s clear that there is no place in the U.S. market for genetically engineered salmon,” said Lisa Archer, Food and Technology program director at Friends of the Earth, in a prepared statement. “People don’t want to eat it and grocery stores are refusing to sell it.”

Approximately 1.8 million people have sent letters to the FDA opposing the approval of what many letter-writers referred to as the “frankenfish” (i.e. GM salmon), reported Friends of the Earth. Early rumblings indicate that the FDA may not require GM salmon products to be labeled as such, said the NGO. “However Alaska, a top wild salmon producer, requires labeling of genetically engineered salmon and momentum is growing for GMO labeling in a number of states across the U.S. and at the federal level,” the organization explained.

A growing facet of the scientific community has argued that genetically modified salmon may pose environmental and public health risks, including damage to the wild salmon population, noted Dr. Pete Knutson, owner of Loki Fish Company and Commissioner on the Puget Sound Salmon Commission.

“There were over 250 million wild salmon harvested in Alaska and Puget Sound this year. Why should we put this sustainable resource at risk for the benefit of a few multinational corporations who will, sooner or later, introduce GE salmon into their floating feed lots? Americans will be eating synthetic salmon, thinking they are receiving the nutritional benefits of wild salmon,” said Knutson.

“There’s no place on our dinner plates for genetically engineered fish. We will continue to work to ensure the market, from grocery retailers to restaurants, continues to listen to majority of consumers that don’t want to eat this poorly studied, unlabeled genetically engineered fish,” Archer concluded.

Per Friends of the Earth, at least 35 other types of genetically engineered fish, like that produced by AquaBounty Technologies’ AquAdvantage, are under development.

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US clears genetically modified salmon for human consumption

US health regulators have cleared the way for a type of genetically engineered Atlantic salmon to be farmed for human consumption – the first such approval for an animal whose DNA has been scientifically modified.

Five years ago, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first declared the product, made by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, to be as safe as conventional farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

AquaBounty’s product will not require special labelling because it is nutritionally equivalent to conventional farm-raised Atlantic salmon, the FDA said on Thursday.

AquaBounty developed the salmon by altering its genes so that it would grow faster than farmed salmon.

It expects it will take about two more years for the salmon to reach consumers’ plates as the company works out distribution.

AquaBounty is majority owned by Intrexon Corp, whose shares were up 7.3 percent at $37.55 in afternoon trading.

AquaBounty says its salmon can grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon, saving time and resources.

The fish is essentially Atlantic salmon, with a Pacific salmon gene for faster growth and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout that promotes year-round growth.

Activist groups have expressed concerns that genetically modified foods may pose risks to the environment and public health.

Several groups on Thursday said they would oppose the sale of engineered salmon to the public, while some retailers said they would not carry the fish on store shelves.

AquaBounty chief executive Ronald Stotish said the approval “brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats”.

The approval for the fish, to be sold under the AquAdvantage brand, requires that the salmon be raised only in two designated land-based and contained hatcheries in Canada and Panama, and not in the US.

All of the fish will be female, and reproductively sterile, to prevent inadvertent breeding of the genetically modified fish with wild salmon, FDA officials said.

The agency on Thursday also issued draft guidelines on how food manufacturers could identify whether the salmon in their products are genetically modified.

The guidelines state that such labelling would be voluntary.

Mr Stotish said in an interview that AquaBounty will follow the FDA’s rule for labelling and that currently “there would be no requirement for labelling”.

“Frankly, it’s an area that we don’t have to address today,” he said.

‘No credible evidence’

Dr William Muir, a professor of genetics at Purdue University who had urged the government to approve the salmon, said there is “no credible evidence” that these genetically modified fish are a risk to either human health or the environment.

“The current practice of using wild-caught salmon as a food source is not sustainable, our oceans are overfished,” Dr Muir said.

Dr Muir was among 80 scientists and biotech industry executives who in 2014 sent a letter to US president Barack Obama asking for administration support for this approval.

AquaBounty’s salmon was originally developed as a fast-growing variety by a group of Canadian public university scientists more than a quarter of a century ago, and the company has been trying to get regulatory approval for almost two decades, said Dr Alison Van Eenennaam of the University of California, Davis, who served on the 2010 FDA veterinary medicine advisory committee, which looked at the AquaBounty salmon.

She called the FDA’s five-year decision-making process on the fish “unprecedented” and said the approval was “long overdue”.

FDA policy analyst Laura Epstein told reporters that because the approval was the first of its kind, the agency wanted “to get everything right” and to offer many opportunities for public comment.

Joe Perry, former chair of the European Food Safety Authority, said European regulators would require a lot more data than the FDA before giving a similar green light to engineered salmon.

Patty Lovera, assistant director for Food and Water Watch, said the group is talking to members of US congress about rolling back the FDA approval.

The group is also considering a lawsuit to block genetically modified salmon from reaching the market.

Friends of the Earth estimates that at least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish, along with chickens, pigs and cows, are under development.

The FDA’s decision on salmon may set a precedent that could make approval for other genetically modified animal species easier.

FDA officials would not comment on whether it has received any other applications for genetically modified animals.

Irish Times Thu, Nov 19, 2015,