Paul Greenberg, author of the James Beard Award-winning Four Fish, the Future of the Last Wild Food, recently commented on the insanity of AquaBounty’s franken-salmon.
Based in Massachusetts, AquaBounty claims its GE salmon is safe for consumption and the environment, but their GM brand of salmon has been spliced with a growth hormone gene forcing it to grow up to five times faster than normal.
And genetically modified salmon are a potential threat to naturally wild Atlantic salmon currently on the Endangered Species List, and pose far too great a risk to wild salmon because of unstable DNA.
Despite these concerns, the FDA knowingly withheld a Federal Biological Opinion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, prohibiting the use of transgenic salmon in open-water net pens pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Greenberg makes four cogent points that further illustrate how AquaBounty’s laboratory invention amounts to nothing more than a mockery of Nature for monetary gain.
1) AquaBounty emphasizes that their fish will be a way of taking pressure off of stocks of wild salmon. But there are many, many wild salmon still out there. The 2011 wild Alaska salmon harvest is projected to be one of the largest since Alaska became a state, with something like 203 million fish anticipated to be caught.
2) AquaBounty claims that it could improve the feed conversion ratio (the amount of wild fish to grow a single pound of salmon) by 20 percent. But improvements in diet, husbandry, and selective breeding programs that don’t involve genetic engineering have lowered the feed conversion ratio on the most efficient farms below 2-to-1.
3) There are fish that offer many of the advantages of the genetically modified salmon, with none of the risks: disease transfer, escapes into the wild, and fouling of the environment.
4) Consumers don’t want genetically modified salmon in the marketplace. And if Frankenfish is labeled, as it will be in California, no one will purchase GE fish.
Of course none of these arguments necessarily hold legal water for the folks at the Food and Drug Administration, writes Greenberg, who are debating the genetically engineered salmon’s future.
In early May, the California Assembly Health Committee approved a bill [AB 88] requiring that all GMO salmon sold in California contain clear and prominent labeling.
Since California has always been a trendsetter in environmental and food safety laws, the passage of this bill may ultimately have a tremendous impact on FDA federal labeling policy regarding GM food.