Frankenfoods is a term developed by consumer groups questioning the health and safety of genetically modified plants or GMO. The US Food and Drug Administration has just lifted an earlier ban on commercialization of the first genetically modified food, Salmon. This is the first time ever permission to sell GMO animals for human consumption in the US has been allowed. It should raise alarm bells not only in the USA.
On March 8, the FDA, responsible for food safety, lifted an earlier ban on sale of GMO salmon by the Massachusetts biotech company, AquaBounty. Until now the company had been prevented from importing its GMO eggs to its salmon tanks in Indiana.
The reason given by the FDA for now removing the ban is not reassuring. They state that a new regulation labeling disclosure that a food is “bioengineered” gives consumers enough information to make an informed choice. For most people, even if the small print is readable, bioengineered may not be understood as a euphemism for controversial genetic manipulation.
The company, which was prevented in 2015 to sell its genetically altered salmon pending resolution of labeling court cases, has patented a method to modify Atlantic salmon with DNA from other fish species to create a sterile Atlantic salmon female that grows up to twice as fast. The process genetically modifies farmed Atlantic salmon with a growth-hormone gene from the Chinook salmon and a piece of DNA from the ocean pout. The corporate driver seems to be cutting costs, not health or safety. The company plans to send its GMO salmon eggs from its facility in Canada to its Indiana growing tanks where it would take around 18 months to reach 10 pounds.
AquaBounty Technologies is majority-owned by Intrexon Corporation of Maryland, which also owns a company developing controversial gene-drive technology.
The FDA approval of GMO salmon from AquaBounty is being met with major protest from various interest groups. George Kimbrell, Legal Director at the Center for Food Safety, points out that the new labeling guidelines do not require the salmon to be clearly labeled “genetically modified.” As Kimbrell notes, “These guidelines… instead allow producers to use QR codes or 1-800 numbers for more information.” Good luck,