After 17 years of research and 60 million dollars of investment by Aquabounty, the FDA is currently considering allowing genetically engineered (GE) salmon into the food supply. They grow big and they grow fast, ready for market in 18 months, half the time of farmed salmon. I don’t trust what is manipulated to make salmon grow like this, and I don’t trust that it can be contained. I am very concerned.
I don’t like what I read as I learn more about genetic modification and genetic engineering. A proposition to label Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and GE foods narrowly missed passage in California in November, 2012. Currently our food supply is littered with GMO and GE crops, including the vast majority of cultivated corn, soy, cotton, and sugar beets. These products are used to feed us and feed animals. At the same time we are struggling with unprecedented inflammation and metabolic disease. Why is this happening?
There is little research on the impact of GE and GMO crops because FDA is limited to assessing industry research. Research looking at the safety of GMO/GE foods is basically a 90 test on laboratory rats that is not long enough to assess any impact on reproduction or offspring. There is no assessment of the impact of GMO or GE crops on the animals or people who eat them. We don’t know how these will products impact our environment, but farmed salmon is not a standard to emulate. We are involved in a massive experiment and we only avoid direct impact when we opt out by buying organic foods or growing our own.
How extensive is the research on GE salmon? I’m not convinced it is enough. Reports say FDA has reviewed over 50 safety studies. One I scanned identified allergy testing on 22 people. I’m not sure that is all that significant when a product is going to be exposed to millions of people. Mostly, what we need is research published in peer reviewed journals by scientists not associated with Aquabounty. That is unlikely to happen.
It is not enough to merely show GE salmon is substantially equivalent to wild caught salmon. It is not enough for the product to look and function like farmed or wild salmon. The fish grow big and fast. I don’t trust that the metabolic manipulation that drives this growth is necessarily safe or can be adequately contained. Aquabounty says it won’t sell fish to someone who doesn’t play by their rules, but that doesn’t really address what could happen after the initial sale.
Food technology embraces a rather checkered history. Scientists and the food industry are especially fond of new and improved, often with too little concern with consequences. Consider the littered trail of metabolic damage as man has tried to manipulate the food environment: trans fats, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), feed lots with with diseased cows, antibiotic resistant microbes, and manure lagoons. That damage continues to compromise our health and the health of our environment. FDA approved plastics used in our food supply contribute to a growing list of endocrine disruptors that are measured in our bodies and are linked to obesity, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, and cancer. Today, we are threatened by a technology that is based in science but missing common sense. A growing number of GMO crops breed more resistance pests which use more destructive agents for pest control that cause bee colony collapse disorder and are linked to a growing list of ecological and metabolic problems. I urge every member to seriously consider the harm of our current food supply–a food supply the FDA and USDA sanctions.
Conventional farming, animal husbandry, and food processing practices contribute significantly to a growing mound of ecological and metabolic damage . Will transgenic salmon get added to the list? The FDA is accepting public comments regarding a position to allow genetically modified salmon to enter the food chain. There is opportunity to submit comments through Feb 26. Take time to add your voice.