Recently, a genetically modified strain of Salmon was approved for consumption by the FDA. The product, produced by AquaBounty Technologies, and known as AquAdvantage Salmon, is the first GMO animal which will be sold and eaten in America, though fruits and vegetables of the ilk have been around in abundance for quite some time. These fake fish grow about twice as fast as natural ones, cutting the time between when they’re born and when they go to market in half. Under FDA sanctions, the fish, once available for purchase, would not require explicit labeling
Although just about everything about this development sounds like it’s straight from a science-fiction novel, it is oh-so-real. The backlash, however, has proven to be significant, as questions have arisen about what risks these creatures would pose both inside of our bodies, as well as if they were to somehow be released into the wild.
The FDA has asserted that AquAdvantage Salmon has no foreseeable ramifications for the environment, or humans. However, as a product of this kind has never before been approved, reasonable doubts about these claims are ubiquitous.
Salmon farmers, environmentalists, distributers, and consumers alike have all voiced concern and outrage in regards to this potentially precedent setting decision.
Furthermore, some of the country’s most influential grocers are opting out. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Target, and the USA’s largest purveyor of Salmon, Costco, have all pledged not to carry the GMO fish once it becomes available for sale on the market, which will probably still not be for another two years or so.
The debate over the safety of GMO products, and consumers’ rights to know what foods have been modified, is undoubtedly an issue which will grow increasingly relevant as scientific capabilities to alter foodstuffs and covertly distribute them grow ever-more prevalent.
Photo by Steven Zolneczko.