The FDA is eerily close to approving genetically modified salmon for human consumption. These “AquAdvantage” fish, as the company that created them calls them, are Atlantic salmon that are genetically altered to contain a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon as well as a genetic “on-switch” from the ocean pout, a distant relative of the salmon. Normally, salmon do not make growth hormone in cold weather, but the pout’s “on-switch” keeps production of the hormone going year round. The result is salmon that can grow to market size in 16 to 18 months instead of three years.
The company that created these mutants assures the FDA that they are the “identical in every measurable way” (no pun intended, one assumes) to traditional farmed Atlantic salmon, but this is one giant (pun intended)science experiment I’m NOT willing to be a participant in.
This growth-enhancing genetic modification is already approved in chickens and there are scientists working to develop other genetically engineered animals, like cattle resistant to mad cow disease, or pigs that could supply healthier bacon. Next in line behind the salmon for possible approval would probably be the “enviropig,” developed at a Canadian university, which has less phosphorus pollution in its manure.
Please tell me I’m not the only one that has issues with this! Why do we insist on trying to “fix” things (the environment, our health, billions and billions of years of evolution, giant corporations’ pocketbooks) by creating these difficult, dangerous, and quite frankly, creepy “solutions” instead of just reversing the thing we did in the first place to cause the problem?!
We pump out millions of pigs per second; their massive amounts of crap are ruining our planet; so doesn’t the logical solution seem to be to stop pumping out so damn many pigs? No, apparently we think it’s better to genetically modify something that nature spent billions of years perfecting so that we can continue our gluttonous habits and possibly kill ourselves with the side effects in the future. (Or maybe we’ll just genetically modify ourselves to be resistant to the effects of digesting genetically modified pig. Because that’s the American way.)
There has not yet been a generation that’s eaten genetically modified (GM) foods for their entire life, so we have no research to show the long-term effects of this on our health (which is why 30 countries have already banned GM foods). American children are the guinea pigs.
It is likely that the GM salmon will not be labeled (no other GM foods are currently labeled), so you will have absolutely no way of avoiding the GM salmon, should you choose to eat salmon. One would assume that organic salmon guarantees no genetically modified organisms (as I’ve previously explained the strict regulations on organic labeling); however, the organic program does not currently have standards that pertain to seafood. “We may someday address aquatic species. It just hasn’t happened,” says Joan Shaffer, National Organics Program spokeswoman. Then why is there salmon with “organic” labels in our stores? The USDA regulates only the use of the organic seal, not the use of the word “organic,” so companies are free to place the word “organic” on their products whether or not they have been certified. Just another deceptive marketing tactic used by the food industry to mislead the public.
Plus, what happens when these unnatural fish get into the oceans? (And, yes, they inevitably will.) It is already speculated that they would out-compete wild fish for food and mates, spread their modified genes (which we do not know the effects of) throughout the population, and I imagine this could seriously alter some food chains. (And surely we all know the dangers of altering seemingly unimportant food chains, right?)
How far will we take this? At what point does “playing God” become a bad idea?
Breakfast: Smoothie with banana, mixed berries (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry) and cauliflower (strange choice, I know, but I had some in the fridge & gave it a shot – it worked out well!)
Lunch: Tomato soup and crackers
Dinner: Spaghetti with meatless meatballs