It’s no secret that I’m an advocate of fish as part of a healthy diet. And, of course, as more people eat fish, we risk depleting these resources.
And yet…I truly believe that the new genetically engineered salmon that are up for approval by the FDA are the wrong way to go.
Just like with GM crops, there hasn’t been formal study of long term impacts on humans. And there are a lot of people with very strong opinions about GM foods overall. But just for fun let’s just table the debate over the health consequences of GMOs for a minute, and consider the rest.
These GM salmon grow many times faster than regular salmon, which will certainly have an impact on their environment because, well, they’re eating much more. Gotta love the environmental impact assessment…essentially, there isn’t one. These fishies are set to be grown in Canada and Panama. And in their infinite wisdom, FDA wrote:
As the proposed action would only allow production and grow-out of AquAdvantage Salmon at facilities outside of the United States, the areas of the local surrounding environments that are most likely to be affected by the action lie largely within the sovereign authority of other countries (i.e., Canada and Panama). Because NEPA does not require an analysis of environmental effects in foreign sovereign countries, effects on the local environments of Canada and Panama have not been considered and evaluated in this draft except insofar as is was necessary to do so in order to determine whether there would be significant effects on the environment of the United States due to the origination of exposure pathways from the production and grow-out facilities in Canada and Panama.
Yep…since it’s not happening in the U.S., we don’t have to figure in the environmental concerns of local ecosystems. Because our environment is so very smart, there’s an imaginary line and net between the U.S. and everywhere else that keeps us insulated and safe.
And, one thing keeps kicking around in my head. To keep the GM fish them under control, all these GM salmon will be female and kept away from normal fish.
The FDA writes:
“…there are no specific data demonstrating that triploid AquAdvantage Salmon are indeed sterile, that is, incapable of producing viable offspring; however, as discussed below, there are several reasons why this is believed to be the case.”
And they do go through a bunch of scenario of why, on paper, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Great. Except we’ve already seen that frogs can change gender when exposed to certain pesticides. To be totally clear, that obviously doesn’t mean the same thing will happen here, and yet it also means that we can’t know for sure how something will play out, if the fish escape or if there’s vandalism. Even if an accident happened once, normal salmon could well be a thing of the past.
This is a good read from Marion Nestle
Am I the only one bothered by this? Hopefully not. The FDA has a comment period that is open until April 26th
There are also a bunch of sites with petitions so you can just sign your name rather than write something in depth.
I usually only write about health news and concerns on my other website and keep this for recipes and such, but I feel it’s important for people to be aware.