The two largest American grocery chains, Safeway and Kroger, join the growing list of grocery stores that are saying “no” to genetically-modified (GM) salmon. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods have already given GM salmon the boot.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet given its approval for the GM salmon, and there is speculation that it has not done so because so many consumers look unfavorably on the altered fish. Three years ago I wrote “New Frankensalmon May Invade US,” and the FDA was debating at that time whether or not to approve the salmon as a “new animal drug.” Using this label, the FDA created its own loophole allowing the advisory committee that evaluated the salmon’s safety to be made up primarily of veterinarians and animal scientists, not food safety experts or ecologists. That has many consumers, environmentalists, and nutritionists concerned.
Worse than that, the safety data used by the FDA to determine whether the GM salmon is safe for human consumption was provided by the company that stands to profit from its commercialization. Does anyone else think that is both a conflict of interest and corrupt?
If it is approved the genetically-modified salmon will not need to be labelled, although a New York Times/CBS poll showed that 87% of people want GM-foods labelled. AquaBounty, the creator of this so-called food, claims that it isn’t possible for the GM-salmon to cross with wild salmon, but not everyone agrees. Their financial interests may make it difficult for them to be impartial.
According to Karin Klein, a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, “The fish would be raised in the mountains of Panama nowhere near the ocean, and they would be rendered sterile and all of them female, to avoid mating. However, the pens would be right next to a river, and the technology for producing sterile fish is not perfect — it would fail in up to 5% of the animals.”
Instead of waiting for the FDA to ban the salmon, many consumers are putting pressure on grocery stores and chains demanding that they ban the salmon from their stores. And, some stores, like Safeway and Kroger are following suit. Some grocery stores are considering voluntary labeling of GM foods since consumers keep pressuring them for it. Many food and farm groups continue to pressure the FDA to require labeling of any genetically-modified foods but that that has yet to happen.
If the salmon is approved by the FDA it sets a precedent for other genetically-modified fauna to hit the market as “food.”
I conducted an informal poll through my social media channels to learn what people think about genetically-modified salmon and here were some of the comments:
“I think it’s an abomination and we should all steer clear of any modified foods.”
“It’s toxic waste labelled as ‘food.’ Treat it like any and all other poisons.”
“When it becomes painfully obvious that the government is no longer looking after the best interests of the people, then what is it that we are voting for?”
What do you think of genetically-modified salmon? Should it be allowed? Do you support Safeway , Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Target and Whole Foods in their decision to ban the GM salmon from their stores? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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