Frankenfish: Food of the 21st Century?

Posted On Feb 3, 2016 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Frankenfish: Food of the 21st Century?

When you go grocery shopping, you trust you're getting what is on the label, right? If you buy chicken, you rightly assume it's 100% chicken and not a blend of turkey, chicken, and pheasant or some other random bird. This won't be true of salmon much longer. The new genetically engineered salmon, dubbed AquAdvantage Salmon, combines Atlantic salmon, Ocean Pout, and Chinook salmon and has the ability to grow twice as fast as other farm-raised salmon. It's like salmon on steroids. Sounds appetizing, huh?

The new salmon is the first genetically modified animal product to hit our plates. Genetically modified plant foods, such as wheat, corn and soybeans are prevalent in our food supply. Eating more fish, especially those high in healthy omega-3 fats such as salmon, is highly recommended for its numerous health benefits. But at what potential cost, both to the environment and our bodies?

AquAdvantage Salmon won't be labeled as being genetically engineered (even though there's supposedly nothing to hide), but if it's farm-raised and from Panama or Canada, there's a good chance it's genetically engineered.

More than 200 grocery stores, restaurants and seafood distributors are taking a stand against GM salmon and pledging not to purchase or sell it while pro-GE salmon parties tout the many benefits: More salmon in our food supply, and sustainable agriculture.

While these benefits are true and the FDA has deemed this GE salmon to be safe to eat, you won't find it on my dinner plate any time soon. Is it unsafe? I don't know, but there's not enough research to make me feel comfortable. In other words, no one knows for sure what the effects could be on humans or on the environment if the GE salmon escape their fisheries. But we at least deserve to be informed through food labeling so we can make our own decision.

The unintended consequences of messing with Mother Nature are unpredictable and research should continue, despite the FDA's approval, to reveal any harmful (or beneficial) effects to us humans and our environment.

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