After more than two decades, genetically modified salmon, dubbed Frankenfish, has been given the go ahead to be sold in the USA.
On March 8 the Food and Drug Administration deactivated an import ban on Canadian grown eggs of the so called AquaAdvantage salmon, thereby allowing it to be grown to market size in land based tanks in Indiana.
The man made Atlantic salmon grows three times faster than normal. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski for years has been an outspoken critic and has questioned if it can even be called a real fish –
“What this does it takes it takes a transgenic Atlantic salmon egg, which has genes from an ocean pout, somewhat akin to an eel, and it combines with the genes of a Chinook salmon. I have questioned time and time again why we would want to be messing with Mother Nature like this. We are trying to invent a species that would grow quicker to out compete our wild stocks. This experiment I think puts at risk the health of our fisheries not only in Alaska, but throughout the Pacific Northwest.”
The move into the US was made possible after the US Department of Agriculture enacted labeling guidelines for “bioengineered” foods, although the exact formatting is still being worked out.
The guidelines won’t tell customers what they are buying. Instead, the ID will be buried in bar codes or at 1-800 numbers on a website.
Murkowski, who called the decision ‘short sighted’ and ‘wrongheaded,’ will continue the push for better labeling.
“If you move forward with a wrongheaded decision to allow for the first time ever this genetically engineered salmon for human consumption, then at a bare minimum you’ve got to stick a label on that says so. Because as someone who wants to be sure that the food that is put on the table for my kids is good and known to be safe, I want to know what I’m buying.”
Producer AquaBounty of Massachusetts says it expects its Frankenfish to hit US stores late next year.
Meanwhile, it’s just another type of farmed fish says Jeremy Woodrow of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
“Honestly, here at ASMI, we see that as just another farmed seafood product, and we’ve been competing against farmed salmon in the marketplace for several decades now. Wild, natural, sustainable – those are attributes that really only apply to Alaska salmon, wild-harvested salmon and that sets us apart in the marketplace, and those are the attributes that we’ll continue to sell to customers.”