Do You Want Genetically Modified Salmon on Your Plate?

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.

  • Paula

    It definitely needs labeling. I’d be very concerned about escaped fish mingling with the wild salmon population. Cross polination is a major issue with genetically engineered crops, it’s so bad that you can barely get even organic corn that’s free of gmo. So, I’m sure cross-breeding will be a major issue here.

    Our own family has stopped eating any kind of fish because of mercury levels in farmed fish and over fishing issues in wild fish. It’s too bad, it’s such a healthy food.

  • The Table of Promise

    I am FURIOUS about this.

    The only thing I am hoping is that all the news coverage will alert consumers that they have been eating gross GMO foods for a while without even knowing it. Hopefully it will wake up consumers and cause a backlash against the manufacteurers who have been selling us all this swill for years. My family is trying to eliminate as many GMOs as possible.

    Why are companies allowed to do whatever they want to our food and our earth’s natural resources. At least label it to give the public an opportunity to say “NO!!” Some fish will very likely escape. I feel the FDA leaning toward approval of this is turning a blind eye to some very serious concerns.

  • bill

    Farmed fish is sustainable and that’s a good thing. I’m even ok when they use feed to color the meat. GMO is too far and I wouldn’t buy it.

  • Food On Our Table

    I have had continued stress over buying and eating fish. Do we eat farmed or not? What about mercury? Now there is the GMO issue. I just heard a horrible story about farmed catfish from China. I actually started buying fish from retailers and restaurants that are part of the CleanFish Alliance. CleanFish specializes in fish that is safe and sustainable. Their latest newsletter had an article on farmed vs wild fish and it was an interesting point of view. If I find the link, I will come back and post it. Does fooducate have a perspective on the CleanFish Alliance?

  • Dave

    Farmed Salmon is NOT sustainable. It takes three pounds of wild fish feed to make one pound of farmed salmon. Farmed salmon are not only comingling with wild populations, but taking tons of wild fish out of our oceans. There are a few great books that deal with this subject, two of the best are “The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat” by Charles Clover and “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” by Paul Greenberg. Farmed Salmon is an environmental disaster. GMO farmed salmon can only be worse.

    Please be careful with fish, its yummy and good for you, but we eat a lot of endangered species and use fishing practices that are environmental hell. I love Salmon, but its wild Alaskan a few times a year for me. I won’t touch the farmed stuff. I sure as hell won’t touch GMO.

  • Heidi

    i hate salmon but even the idea of genetically modified anything creeps me out!!

  • Carrie

    NO thank you very much!!!

  • Leah

    This is horrible. And very. very scary.

  • J in VA

    I don’t knowingly eat farmed fish–I’m not obcessive about it though. I won’t eat the GMO either. There’s no way to prevent contaminating the wild fish stock.

  • Kara Sorensen

    This is so so so very sad. Haven’t we learned something from our past? Something like don’t mess with nature? I can only hope that this creates so much public outcry that it can’t continue. This is neither scientifically, nor environmentally sound. Who cares about economics if it destroys something beautiful and irreplaceable? I only have three science degrees, but know enough to see the disaster looming ahead if this continues.

    Kara Sorensen, BS, MS, LAc, MS
    Nutrition Consultant & Acupuncturist

  • kc

    This is the case that should alert the average Joe to the depths of government corruption. I think Americans are about to find out that the FDA has no other concern except the financial status of the few corporate giants and the politicians “sponsored by” those giants. When a choice has to be made between the safety concerns of the consumer and the profits of food processors, the food processors win hands down. I am pleased to see all the coverage about this issue even though most of it is slanted in favor of GMOs because smart consumers will be curious enough to do their own research. Right now even smart consumers are unaware that most seafood is packed in citric acid laced ice in the holds of the boat so that it is contaminated with GMO corn before it even hits land (citric acid is a GMO corn derivative). Maybe smart consumers will find out how often farmed fish escape from containment and how massive the problem will be if perpetually growing fish escape into the food chain. (If that growth gene is permanently on, they never quit growing, therefore they will need ever increasing amounts of food to live – really bad news for the real fish they will be competing with for food)

    I have no delusions about these “fish” being labeled as GMOs. Right now almost every processed product in America contains some genetically modified crops. If GMO labeling was required, every major corporation in America would have to change the label of every product they sell. This would never be allowed to happen because it would be such a huge financial blow to the food processors. It just doesn’t matter what the consumer wants or demands. Can you imagine if every product that contains a corn or soy derivative had to be relabeled? And that doesn’t even count the derivatives not listed in the ingredients because of the “manufacturing aid” loophole (like the citric acid on seafood). We might as well disband the FDA for all the good they are doing.

  • Lisa Morgan


  • Jan

    The “pro” statement that farmed salmon saves wild salmon seems a bit silly given that the main threat to wild Atlantic salmon now comes from farmed Atlantic salmon…through escapes, competition, sea lice, disease etc. In addition salmon aquaculture places considerable stress on other wild fish stocks because salmon are carnivores. They eat other fish. It takes several wild fish to make one farmed salmon. Add this to the GMO, the chemicals in the feed and the pesticide treatments and the harm outweighs any benefit. 

  • Alan DeRossett

    Sea water contains naturally occurring Fluoride. The concentration in seawater averages 1.3 parts per million (ppm) So Wild Salmon also contains 4x more Fluoride then tap water. We use to sell Citric Acid from Lemon trees to Salmon Fisheries they use it to lower the Fluoride levels before inspection. USDA regulates the amount of Fluoride that Salmon are allowed to contain and still be sold. So the Farm Raised Salmon could have much lower levels of Fluoride if their water and food is not contaminated. Salmon eat Krill and the Krill oil is also a source of toxic levels of Fluoride. If Krill was sold as a food it would not meet the USDA legal limits. Supplements are unregulated.

  • Sam H

    I don’t really see any problem with genetically modified salmon, they are just as healthy as the wild ones. I think that the person who wrote that farmed fishing is unsustainable is wrong,he/she says that it takes 3 pounds of wild fish feed to feed 1 pound of farmed salmon, that would be an incredible waste of money if they can just use the 3 pounds of wild fish and sell that. If it really did take that much wild fish to feed the salmon I don’t think anyone would be farm fishing.