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What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Salmon

Some might say we’ve reached a new and potentially dangerous low with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s approval of genetically engineered (GE) salmon. Worse, when these “Frankenfish” hit the market you’ll have no way of knowing, since the FDA will not require the producer to label the product as genetically modified.

FDA Continued Tests Despite a Ban on the Sale of GE Salmon

Apparently they were confident in the powers that be, because despite a 2011 ban on the sale of GE salmon, the FDA moved forward with testing. Why? Your guess is as good as ours. (Though we have a few good ones…) Nonetheless, now that the FDA has deemed that AquAdvantage Salmon, a patented fish genetically modified to grow at twice the rate of conventional salmon, is safe for consumption, the company that developed it is set to outsource once-American fishermen’s jobs by beginning production in Panama and Canada.

Many opponents have expressed concerns over the safety of the GE salmon ranging from the potential threat it poses to the environment and marine life (What if one or more of the fish “jumps ship” and contaminates natural resources?) to the lack of thorough assessments completed before the FDA’s approval, calling assessments thus far “flawed and inadequate.

In 2012, Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety noted, “The GE salmon has no socially redeeming value; it’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment. FDA’s decision is premature and misguided.”

Which brings up another risk associated with the GE salmon’s approval: instability of the salmon industry and the economies associated with it.

Not surprisingly, most vocal about the threats of GE salmon are lawmakers such as Senator Lisa Ann Murkowski and Senator Donald Young. The two see the outsourced food supply as a great threat to the economy in their state of Alaska and have been fighting the approval of the unnecessary biohack since 2010.

Back in 2012, Senator Murkowski said in a statement, “I am concerned with the recent news that FDA is moving forward with the approval of genetically modified fish. This is especially troubling as the agency is ignoring the opposition by salmon and fishing groups, as well as more than 300 environmental, consumer and health organizations.”

Another Sign That Our Food System is Corrupt?

It’s no secret that current decision makers in Washington have close ties with Monsanto and other biotech giants. Looking at Michael Taylor’s career alone speaks volumes. The current Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA is infamous for his tendency to go where biotech giants need him. After earning a degree in political science, he held a roles at the FDA for nearly 5 years (1976-1981), then worked as an attorney for Monsanto (1981-1988), then went back to the FDA (1991-1994), then moved over to the USDA (1994-1996), then back to the law firm representing Monsanto (1996-2000). And, sadly, Taylor’s back-and-forth career path is not uncommon. So how can we be assured that decisions out of the FDA are trustworthy?

FDA Says GE Salmon Is Actually a Drug

Because of its genetic modifications, AquAdvantage’s salmon is technically not even a food, says the FDA, because the modifications are so dramatic that it “meets the definition of a drug.”

USA Today Reports:

The AquAdvantage contains a gene from its close cousin, the Chinook salmon, as well as a bit of molecular machinery, taken from the ocean pout fish, which turns on the growth gene year-round, instead of only in the warmer months. The added genetic material helps the AquAdvantage salmon — produced by AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts biotechnology company — grow twice as fast as ordinary farmed salmon, even though they eat 10% less food.

How You Can Avoid Consuming GE Salmon

The GE fish are not expected to hit shelves for at least a year. However, unfortunately there will be no way of identifying them, since there is no requirement to label the food as genetically modified. Your best bet will be to buy USDA certified organic or wild-caught salmon, however, here is a list of companies that have pledged to not sell GE salmon.  GE-free_seafood_company_policy_chart-no_restaurants_6-5-14

 

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