May 17, 2014

GMO Salmon awaiting FDA Approval


The term GMO- Genetically Modified Organism- has gained public attention and sparked much national debate over the past decade. Many of the most widely consumed foods in the United States, including corn and soy, are genetically modified. However, the movement towards consuming more organic, locally harvested food had led many members of the American public to swear off GMO products altogether.  The negative health effects of these foods remains unclear at present but many feel that the unknown effects that these foods could potentially cause is enough reason to avoid them in the first place.  On the other side of the argument, necessity requires that measures be taken to enhance and increase the amount of food we are able to produce in order to meet the growing needs of the planet’s burgeoning population.

Specially relating to seafood, a Massachusetts-based company called AquaBounty has created a genetically modified “super salmon” by genetically crossing chinook salmon and ocean pout.  The resulting species has the potential to grow to market size in half the time it takes a natural salmon to grow to this size.  The species, named “AquAdvantage Salmon” (AAS) by AquaBounty, “will be grown as sterile, all-female populations in land-based facilities with redundant biological and physical containment. As a result, AAS cannot escape or reproduce in the wild and pose no threat to wild salmon populations.” (Sounds a little like Jurassic Park!!) Opponents on the other side of the argument suggest that introduction to the wild will inevitably happen, causing the decimation and out-breeding of natural species due to the ability of this genetically modified species to grow at remarkable speeds.  This will also result in competition for resources between  natural species and this new genetically modified superfish. Concerns over allergic reactions to this genetically modified species have also been raised.

The AquAdvantage salmon is currently awaiting FDA approval.  If approved, it would be the first genetically modified meat product available for US consumption.  Major supermarket chains including WholeFoods and SafeWay have already come out in opposition to the FDA approval, claiming they will not sell the product even if it is approved.  You can read and learn more about the battle over the production of this genetically modified seafood by visiting AquaBounty’s website and by clicking here to watch a video and read an article from CBS news.