FDA to White House: Green Light on GMO Salmon

GMO vs conventional salmon

The FDA recently submitted documents to the White House Office of Management and Budget, supporting the commercialization of genetically modified salmon. This, after several years of studies on the health and environmental impact of this new breed of superfish.

Before we explain why we’re worried about this move, a brief history. Worldwide, we have been overfishing for too long. Most wild stocks of salmon, tuna, and other large fish are close to depletion. Fish farming is a solution that has its pros and cons, but still is unable to catch up with growing global demand for quality seafood.

This is where science comes to the rescue. Wouldn’t it be great if we could grow much more fish, and at a faster rate than what nature does? That’s exactly what AquaBounty, the company behind this new salmon, has achieved. By adding growth hormone gene from large Pacific Chinook Salmon to the Atlantic Salmon, the former now grows at a much faster rate.

In addition, another gene was thrown in, from a type of cold water eel. Its responsibility is to keep the growth hormone continually active. The result is that the new super salmon reaches twice the weight and size of a regular salmon within 18 months since hatching.

GMO salmon growth graph

This sounds great, but here are some of the problems:

Not enough safety tests – The genetically modified salmon has been evaluated for safety, but not on a sufficient scale. Example: tests for potential allergens were only executed on 6 fish.

Gene pool contamination – a major risk of GMOs is that they mix with their conventional cousins and obliterate them. There is no way to go back. GMO salmon can easily escape from the farm pools where they are grown, and overtake the native wild populations. AquaBounty claims this is virtually impossible, but millions of farm fish escaped from farm pools in recent years.

AquaBounty has put in another safety measure – the GMO fish are sterile so they could not really effect native populations. Except that about 5% of the GMO fish are not sterile. Oops.

Competition with native populations – In order for the GMO fish to grow so fast, they need to eat a lot too. And since they eat the same type of food as their conventional brethren, natural wild stocks will face even more pressure once GMO fish escape. Natural bounties could potentially decrease.

No Label Required – The FDA sees no difference between GMO and conventional foods, so naturally there will be no labeling required of the new salmon once it hits the market. Keeping the public in the dark is never the right answer.

What do you think? Will you eat GMO salmon? What if it is the only affordable way to get seafood for your family?

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  • Christine Bongiovanni

    No I don’t want to eat this fish but if it isn’t labeled how does the consumer know what they’re buying?

  • Guest

    I would eat it. It’s not like it’s really terrible

    • malachite2

      How do you know it’s not “really terrible” What data do you base your conclusion on?

  • Kleinbc

    Why doesn’t the FDA come up with a way to stop overfishing and send those recommendations to the White House? Just like everything else we’ve done to try and control our environment, it’ll lead to disaster. And we haven’t tested the long term effects on humans, so we don’t even know that they are safe for human consumption. ( just like all other GMO foods…)

    • carol

      That would be the purview of EPA or Fish & Game… nothing to do with FDA.
      Another option is to eat fish that are less “popular” but more plentiful. Some wild species have already been selling more now that they are marketed better (and given “nicer” names).

  • fabfoodie

    So much politics and inbreeding in the FDA. Stopping GMO’s has to be done on a national basis and has to be done NOW

  • Eric

    What we have to do instead of creating GMO’s is lower the human population,of coarse natural fish stocks will be low with everyone and there 7 billion mothers eating it. To preserve this world,we need population control

  • Neal

    I knew it only was a matter of time before GMO would move into other food items. When profit oriented companies bought the election in Calif. (Prop 37) they would do anything to increase the bottom line regardless of the effects on human health. I am all for science but not without complete testing.

  • malachite2

    No, I won’t eat this fish. Can eat only wild caught until the inevitable happens (even though Aquawhatever swears it won’t, just like Monsanto swore its patented genes wouldn’t) and then I will probably stop eating salmon. Too bad since I live in a town where some of the income is derived from commercial fishing, including fishing for salmon.

    And when the fish do escape and are proven not to be quite “sterile” enough–will there be any negative consequences for Aquawhatever? Of course not.

    Because the US worships and has been captured by corporations.

  • James Cooper

    So even though it seems you collectively are not experts with years of scientific training and experience, you are questioning the decision of the FDA who is made of people who have that training and experience?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Yes. Is that a problem?
      Our commander in chief usually is not a military person, and he commands the mightiest army in the world. Most CEOs of food companies are not food scientists.
      Most CEOs of pharma companies are not pharmacists or PhDs in chemistry. etc…

      On another note Jim: thanks for being the most persistent commenter her at Fooducate and have a happy holiday!

    • Phillip

      The FDA doesn’t do the research for these studies. All they do is review the research that is given to them. In this case its AquaBounty that gave them this.

    • ItsMe

      Oh yeah, I question the FDA. They are not God!

  • RJ

    Most salmon will State Farm raise, stick to wild caught, more expensive but worth it the same size fillet has half the fat.

  • Minivike

    I thought Michelle Obama was supposed to be stopping this? Seriously.

  • ItsMe

    Won’t eat Salmon at all if I don’t know if it’s GMO or not!!!

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  • Marco

    Ok you guys are sooooo over dramatic GMO’s are perfectly safe I mean if not the FDA wuld never let it be on the market.