Are you ready for something new for your dinner plate? Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that genetically engineered (GE) salmon might be coming to a grocery store near you.
The frankenfish in question is a type of salmon, bred from Atlantic waters to carry the same genes of the Chinook salmon from the wild Pacific, along with an ocean pout, which is an eel-like fish. By combining the genes of these two fish, it allows it to grow all year round, instead of only in the spring and summer months. Furthermore, the fish can grow to almost two feet long, instead of the average thirteen inches, and is almost two and a half times it’s weight, clocking in at nearly 7 pounds.
AquaBounty, the manufacturers of this fish, are waiting for the final assessment from the FDA, which has approved the first genetically engineered animals for human consumption. After reviewing more than 50 safety studies, from allergens to health regulations, the new “fish” might finally be ready for its time in the public eye.
(Read our old thoughts on AquaBounty and GMO salmon here)
Notable is that these genetically engineered salmon are to be kept in enclosed, inland tanks to prevent any form of risk that the females will breed with wild salmon, and AquaBounty has stated that they will not sell the fish to farmers who do not have these required enclosed, inland tanks.
Environmentalists and food-safety advocates are not pleased with the news, feeling that the FDA shouldn’t be making such decisions. The Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit that is against genetic modification of fish (see their GE-Fish.org website) has not been keen on AquaBounty since its initial debut.
Though it is designed for human consumption, this food isn’t actually approved as a food. Instead, they are dubbing it as a new animal drug, which will neglect to assess key areas such as human health. The fish also won’t be raised in the United States directly (though sold there). Instead, they will be born and raised in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and then shipped off to Panama, where they’ll grow into salmon.
However, this new fish is still under scrutiny. Though the FDA has initially approved it, there was a ninety day lapse where the department accepts any form of public comment on the matter of its draft environmental assessment. If you want to add and let them know your thoughts, you have until February 25th, 2013, and can visit regulations.gov. Once there search for docket number FDA-2011-N-0899-0002 and let them know what you think.
Note that other than Alaska, no other states have passed any form of law that genetically modified ingredients, including salmon, have to be labeled, so you could be consuming it unknowingly when you’re at your local grocery store. Though you can be safe by exclusively eco-friendly vegetarian diet, you can also have your say by contacting the FDA with your thoughts.