Genetically Modified: Corn and Soy and Salmon, Oh My!

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I have the feeling I’m going to be saying that more and more as time goes on. Sigh.

The latest? The FDA is being petitioned today to decide whether genetically modified salmon can be sold as food to humans. This would be the first GMO animal to be sanctioned by the FDA to be sold as food.

This genetically engineered salmon (brought to you by AquaBounty Technologies) possesses similar “desirable” traits found among both the land animal feed lots and the GMO crops. It grows twice as fast, drastically reducing time to consumption. It is heartier, being able to grow quickly year-round. And they will achieve these traits by growing them on a fish farm and injecting them with recombinant DNA from Chinook Salmon (for the size) and ocean pout (like an eel, which allows for the quick growth even in the winter).

I’ll be honest with you: when I first became aware of this development this morning, I had to sit down. I’ve long been feeling that science has run amuck in the world of food, where I don’t think it really belongs in the first place (think processed, irradiated, fortified with stuff we can’t use, genetically modified, complete frankenfoods like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils (trans fats), aspartame, twinkies, etc, etc). This is another blow, and seems to suggest that science is not going to leave food alone anytime soon.

I have a lot of concerns about this “salmon” being allowed to be grown and sold as food. Just like with GMO soy, corn and other crops, the altered DNA will inevitably mix in with its non-GMO counterparts and infect them and spread beyond its bounds, shrinking the supply of non-GMO salmon. I have no idea what impact these genetically-altered fish will have on anyone who consumes them, and I don’t think anyone does (anyone want to be a lab rat?). And I fear this salmon will be allowed to be sold with no indication for consumers that it is genetically modified, as is currently the case with corn, soy, and other GMO products.

What’s wrong with nature? Why can’t we work with her? Why can’t we stop allowing the dumping of toxic waste into our rivers and oceans, and start only harvesting non-contaminated fish in a sustainable way? I have two words for you: Vital Choice. I love salmon, and I have a freezer full of salmon and other seafood from them. These are wild-caught pure salmon (no mercury or other toxins) that have been sustainably harvested. They have independent certifications to support both the purity of the fish and the sustainability of their practices. And I can tell you from my own experience they will forgo a sale before they over-harvest the fish.

The only thing that made me feel better after reading the article this morning on CNN was the poll they had at the end:

Would you eat genetically modified salmon?
   In a heartbeat
   If the FDA approves it, I guess it’s okay
   I’ll wait a while and see how people fare
   In a pinch
   Not on your life

I chose “Not on your life.” After I submitted my vote I saw that 47% (the largest percentage by far for any one answer) had also chosen that. Products are designed by companies to meet demand. The demand comes from consumers. As helpless as I felt while reading this article, I know that as I consumer I have power and a voice. The foods I spend my money on communicate my demands. You can vote with your dollar, too.

3 thoughts on “Genetically Modified (GMO) Salmon

  1. When pigs fly…which, judging by how things are going…may not be that far off 🙁 But, NO – there is NO way I’d knowingly eat that crap!

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