Do you remember when we first talked about Franconian fish? (Don’t worry if not … a lot has happened since then.) To refresh your memory, in 1989, a company called AquaBounty found a way to splice growth hormone regulating genes from pout and Pacific Chinook salmon into Atlantic salmon, which allows the fish to resize faster of an adult (read: harvestable). The fish was approved by the FDA in 2015 and the Canadian authorities in 2016. And while it was shipped to Canadian consumers in 2017 (much to their chagrin), not all is rosy for this pink fish.
“If the GMO fish market grows similarly to the GMO seed market, any healthy and sustainable fish market will be dwarfed by this cheap, industrial GMO fish and cause very similar problems to what we are currently seeing in our agriculture.”
After a long back-and-forth between the FDA and USDA over regulating the GE fish, AquaBounty has finally announced the sale of its first crop in the US in the next few weeks. But consumers are not overly enthusiastic, and so American food service companies (which are little regulated by the powers that be) fight back in an echo of the great decline of the cage eggs in 2015. That means: Aramark, a food service provider for hospitals, universities , School districts and stadiums across the country, just announced its commitment to turn down genetically modified salmon and join Compass Group and Sodexo, not to mention many of the largest US grocery retailers. Fish companies and restaurants including Costco.
“We reiterate our previously stated opposition to genetically modified salmon (GE) and will not buy it when it hits the market,” says Aramark’s updated sustainable sourcing policy. “Avoiding potential impacts on wild salmon populations and indigenous communities whose livelihoods are closely linked to and often dependent on this vital resource is at the core of our commitment to having a positive impact on people and the planet.”
So why so much fuss? A few things.
From a social point of view, genetically modified salmon, similar to traditional farmed salmon, are displacing fishermen from the community and threatening their livelihoods.
“The corporate consolidation of our fish markets is displacing community and BIPOC fishermen left and right and devastating our waters,” said Jason Jarvis, a Rhode Island commercial fisherman and chairman of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). In a recent press release, “These GE salmon are just another step in that direction and we have a chance to stop more of this destruction now.”
In addition to the social concerns, there is also some tension over the environmental impact of GE salmon. Salmon is a carnivorous fish and farmed salmon takes up to three times its weight in smaller fish to reach adult size. While some progress has been made towards more sustainable salmon farming, particularly with regard to the transition to plant-based feed, the salmon farming industry is still far from being the most environmentally sound. Since GE salmon is designed to grow quickly, it should theoretically be less of a climatic concern, at least in terms of feed. However, this has proven to be far from it.
A 2017 risk assessment by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans found that GE salmon had dramatically lower growth rates compared to the growth rates the company had promised. The salmon also appear to be susceptible to disease and deformities, which could raise animal welfare concerns. And to make the injury worse, there are some concerns that GE salmon is contaminating wild stocks of salmon or local brown trout in the Indiana area, despite the company’s assurances to the contrary.
“GM salmon is not 100 percent sterile, and containment is never 100 percent safe,” says Dana Perls, program manager for food and technology at Friends of the Earth. “Escape is inevitable in the face of human negligence and natural disasters.”
The continued back and forth between the FDA and USDA leaves the regulation far from watertight.
“The regulations of the FDA and the USDA are absolutely inadequate for a responsible assessment of the safety or sustainability of new genetic engineering applications,” says Perls. “So far, there are no specific safety assessments required for these new techniques, and there is no regulatory oversight for these fast-moving new technologies.”
For Jon Russell, also of NAMA, GE salmon only doubles for the problems associated with non-GM farmed fish.
“AquaBounty is one of many BioTech-funded companies trying to take over the food industry for the next wave of money making,” says Russell. We can see very similar trends in biotech fishing. “
“If the GMO fish market grows like the GMO seed market,” he continues, “any healthy and sustainable fish market will be dwarfed by this cheap, industrialized GMO fish and will cause problems very similar to our agriculture.” World now. “
Since GM salmon are unlikely to have clear labels on their packaging (as is already the case in Canada), it can be difficult for consumers to avoid. That’s why it’s so important for companies like Aramark to take a stand.
Based on bio-authority
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