Genetically engineered salmon: a turning point for the future of seafood?
If you care about your food and its environmental sustainability, you should be concerned about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval, on Nov. 19, of a faster growing, farmed Atlantic salmon—the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption. This new “GE” salmon presents significant environmental, policy, and consumer rights concerns, and the FDA’s action has potentially profound implications for the future of fish and sustainability of our oceans.The FDA approved an application by U.S.-based AquaBounty Technologies to commercialize its genetically modified salmon, a fish touted as growing twice as fast as regular farmed Atlantic salmon. This approval allows the company to produce genetically engineered salmon eggs in Canada, fly them to a land-based facility in Panama to grow the fish to market size, and then transport the resulting processed fish back to the United States for sale to consumers. This circuitous process is not the company’s long-term business model, however, as AquaBounty has signaled it would like to farm its GE salmon close to population centers in the U.S. and indeed throughout the world.
This post originally appeared on Vox Populi, the opinion department of Dartmouth Now. To read the rest of this article, please click here.
Local news doesn’t always go deep into conservation issues, but check out this very thorough piece from Austin’s KVUE on the controversy surrounding genetically engineered salmon. They spoke to Ocean Conservancy’s George Leonard about the future of fish and the risks if FDA approves the fish for human consumption.
If you missed the Food and Drug Administration’s controversial ruling during the holidays – to recommend approval of an engineered variant of farmed Atlantic salmon as the first-ever, genetically engineered animal allowed for human consumption – you aren’t the only one.
It came as a surprise to conservationists, media and policymakers alike, and the ruling opened a surprisingly short public comment period that closes on February 25.
Thankfully, seven U.S. senators are standing up for the ocean and for healthy, sustainable seafood by sending a letter to FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg today requesting a 60-day extension to the public comment period. The senators rightly believe that the public deserves more time to adequately review and comment on the FDA’s lengthy, yet intentionally narrow, report that will have far-reaching implications for the future of fish and the health of the seafood on our plates and in our ocean.
Ocean Conservancy commends the strong stance taken by Senators Begich and Murkowski of Alaska, Senators Murray and Cantwell of Washington State, Senators Wyden and Merkley of Oregon, and Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.
Within the last hour, there was a floor vote on an amendment to S.3187, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, put forth by Senator Lisa Murkowski from the state of Alaska. Why should you care? Because this has big implications for the future of fish in the ocean and on our dinner plates. To our disappointment, the amendment did not pass. But nearly 50 percent of the Senate supported Senator Murkowski’s efforts to protect our wild fish from the risks of genetically engineered fish. That alone is a strong statement.
Director of Strategic Initiatives George Leonard prepares his famous honey-glazed wild salmon.
I can’t wait for summer. Not for the warm beaches and suntan, but because of the barbecue. I’m not much of a chef, but I’m real good over a charcoal fire.
One of my favorite meals is honey-glazed wild salmon. And for the first time in four years, we’ll have a commercial salmon season this summer here in California. This means I’ll be able to support our local fishermen by deliberately purchasing sustainably caught, wild California salmon at many local markets.
These fish will be clearly labeled as to where they come from and how they were caught so there’s little risk that I’ll be buying a fish I don’t want – but that may soon change. Continue reading »