It appears that the first genetically modified animal fish will soon be approved for human consumption. A federal advisory committee, reporting to the FDA, posed no objections to allowing genetically engineered “super salmon” into our food supply.
What exactly it this fish?
We’re talking about farmed salmon, fish that is bred and grown in huge pools of water far away from the cold waters of either the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Farmed salmon has been sold for ages in supermarkets and served in restaurants. In most cases, when you order salmon, you’re getting farm raised. It’s cheaper, doesn’t taste as good, and is also of lower caliber nutritional quality. It still contains many nutrients, but as good as the farm feed is, it can’t compete with wild salmon’s natural feeding habitat.
What the genetic modification has done is make the farmed salmon grow at twice the speed as a normal salmon, this by a very cool trick (if you’re into science, you have to admire the ingenuity). Turns out salmon grows only in warm weather, this by the presence of a certain growth hormone. Scientists were able to manipulate the gene that regulates the turning on/off of the growth hormone , and leave it permanently on, letting the salmon grow year round instead of just 6 months.
Very novel indeed, and most of the research done to show that there are no health issues seem to be just fine.(Most, not all, please note).
So the question is – would you like to eat some?
Ease the strain on wild salmon populations by providing more farmed salmon
Hopefully lower prices than today
Salmon is very high in omega-3 and other nutrients, the GM version remains the same
Salmon is a tasty fish that kids love too
Long term health effects unknown
Risk of escaped salmon intermingling with wild populations and creating unknown
For some folks reading this blog, the answer is clearcut – no to GMO. For others it may be a clear yes. Many may be sitting on the fence trying to figure this one out. What we would like to see is a clear label at the fishmonger and in supermarkets, telling us if the salmon we are buying is wild, farmed, or GM farmed.
If history is precedent, that won’t happen in the US (have you seen a label denoting GM soy? GM corn? Most of the corn and soy in the US today is genetically modified).
And that’s a shame. Consumers have the right to know what they’re getting and choose not to participate in long term science experiments.