When genetically modified salmon became the very first GMO animal to get the go-ahead from the FDA for sale in the U.S., the reception was generally chilly, with a majority of consumers unwilling to take a chance eating something that has absolutely no established safety record.
Now Canada is getting in on the act, with health authorities in that country recently approving the sale of the controversial GMO fish there. While the FDA has now instituted a ban on the import of GM salmon until specific labeling guidelines can be put in place, Canada will have no such requirement, which means it could end up being the first country where this fish is sold.
Governments might be on board, but consumers and retailers are largely shunning what many are terming "frankenfish." An impressive number of food retailers – nearly 80 so far and counting – have vowed not to sell GMO salmon in their stores.
11,000 stores and counting refuse to sell GMO salmon
For example, Albertsons Companies, which owns Albertsons, ACME, Shaw's, Vons and Safeway, has announced that its stores will not sell it. Senior Vice President Jonathan Mayes said: "Albertsons Companies and its family of stores, have no plans to carry GE salmon. The seafood products we offer will continue to be selected consistent with our Responsible Seafood Policy and our partnership with FishWise."
Joining Albertsons Companies are big-name retailers such as Costco, Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Kroger. In total, these chains account for more than 11,000 stores. The only remaining big grocery chains that have yet to state their official position on the subject are Walmart and Publix. Restaurant chains such as Legal Sea Foods and Red Lobster have also said they won't sell GMO salmon. These are all businesses that are concerned with maximizing profits, so their refusal to sell the fish can only mean that they do not expect there to be any demand for this "food."
This is a reflection of the general sentiment regarding genetically engineered salmon. An unprecedented number of people – nearly 2 million – filed public comments in opposition to the approval of GMO salmon by the FDA. According to a poll by Pew Research, 57 percent of American adults think GMO foods are "generally unsafe." People are growing increasingly concerned about the content of their foods, which is why there is such a high demand for books like Mike Adams' Food Forensics, which reveals the hidden toxins in common foods.
GMO salmon could put entire wild salmon population at risk
The genetically engineered salmon, which is produced by AquaBounty Technologies and is known as AquAdvantage, is based on farmed Atlantic salmon with genes from Pacific Chinook salmon and another type of fish called eelpout added. This was done with the intent of causing the fish to make unusually high levels of growth hormone, allowing it to grow up to six times faster than its unmodified counterpart.
Documents from the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans called into question the safety and viability of the fish. The paper notes that GM salmon is more susceptible to disease-causing bacteria such as Aeromonas salmonicida. They also show that it does not actually grow faster than unmodified salmon.
In addition, there are concerns that the genetically modified fish could eventually escape and interact with native species, compromising the genetic vitality and health of the world's wild salmon populations. When this happens, there will be no way to reverse the effects.
The situation is only likely to get worse, with two different types of GMO pork currently in development, along with two types of genetically engineered cows. If the AquAdvantage salmon fiasco is anything to go by, these foods could also end up gaining FDA approval, but the real question is: Will anyone end up buying it?