I’ve made my position on GM food and the failure of our government to pass stricter laws governing the labeling of our foods for GMOs pretty clear. The loss of Prop 37 in California last fall was a significant setback in the fight to give the consumer better choices at the supermarket by denying them a clearer idea of what they’re buying. That said, it put the issue of GMOs on the map and I’m hoping it will also help push our scattered food movement into a national force that will both educate and empower the public into making sound decisions based on facts.
We’re barely into the new year and already we’re faced with a major test of that fledgling movement by the latest FDA report on the safety of genetically engineered (or GE) fish. Talk of GE fish has been around for awhile now, but this new assessment by the FDA takes things one step further towards sanctioning the sale of these fish in your local markets. Consider that we currently don’t have a national (or state-level) law that regulates the labeling of genetically modified foods being sold in stores, and if deemed safe, you won’t know whether that salmon you’re purchasing for dinner is engineered or you know, real. How comfortable would you be with that blind taste test? I don’t know about you, but the idea of it makes me sick to my stomach.
What are the differences between GE salmon and fresh salmon? Emily Main from Rodale outlines the main points,
This man-made fish is an Atlantic salmon bred to contain genes of a variety of wild Pacific salmon called a Chinook salmon and from an ocean pout, a fish that resembles an eel. The combination of genes allows the fish to grow year-round, rather than only during spring and summer, as natural salmon do. And as a result, AquaBounty’s salmon grows to 24 inches long, rather than 13, and clocks in at an average of 6.6 pounds, rather than 2.8. (“Are You Ready for Frankenfish?“)
Main goes on to point out what I find to be the most horrifying part of this issue, and that is that the FDA is testing the GE fish as a “new animal drug” and not as a food. So you have something that will be sold to the public as a food, but its safety for consumption won’t be assessed on the basis of it being a food item, thereby raising all kinds of questions about what exactly you will be eating.
The article also points to the environmental impact of GE salmon to the already endangered wild salmon population in the Atlantic. If these ‘frankenfish’ escape into the wild, how will fisherman control the damage to their farms if they’re able to breed with fresh fish? Altogether, the steps taken by the FDA to give credence to what many consider a harmful product, are egregious at best.
The good news is that there is a window of time where we can voice our opinions to the FDA and let them know what we think about their assessment on GE fish. You have until February 25, 2013 to express your views on regulations.gov by searching for docket number FDA-2011-N-0899-0002.
I consider these early stages of GE food research and subsequent push into the market a tipping point. You have an item that has a questionable impact on our health, economy, and environment which is crucial on its own. But I also find this to be and important question of ethics. Where do we draw the line between food and science? How far will we allow our ability to do dictate whether or not we should? If the day comes where we see GE fish approved for human consumption, what will be next? That’s what frightens me and that’s where I hope people will begin to really question what’s on their plate.
What do you think? Do you think GE fish will have a beneficial or harmful impact on our health and environment? Do you believe the FDA is correct in their findings? Is science going too far in their animal and food experimentation or not? Will you voice your opinion to the FDA directly? I’m curious. Drop me a line!