AquaBounty insists that its GE salmon is safe to eat and 'indistinguishable' from its natural counterparts. (Photo Credit: AquaBounty/FIS)
Food retailers stand against GE salmon
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 01:20 (GMT + 9)
Whole Foods Market Inc, Trader Joe's and other food retailers which together control more than 2,000 stores across the country have vowed to boycott genetically engineered (GE) seafood if the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves it for human consumption, according to the Campaign for Genetically Engineered-Free Seafood launched by Friends of the Earth.
The announcement is referring to the GE salmon created by AquaBounty Technologies, which would be the first GE animal to be approved for humans to eat. AquaBounty’s "AquAdvantage Salmon" can grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon thanks to the combination it has of Atlantic salmon, Pacific salmon and eel-like ocean pout genes.
"Stores see the writing on the wall -- Americans don't want to touch this fish," said Eric Hoffman, food and technology policy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, the environmental group gathering the grocery store signatures, San Jose Mercury News reports. "The tipping point is coming soon."
Opponents warn that genetically modified products are not sufficiently tested for safety in humans and the environment, carry allergy risks and should be labelled to inform consumers that they are buying a GE food. AquaBounty insists that its GE salmon is safe to eat and "indistinguishable" from its natural counterparts.
It seems that many grocers agree with the critics: discount retailer Aldi, regional chains such as Marsh Supermarkets, PCC Natural Markets and co-ops in Minnesota, New York, California and Kansas also signed the agreement to avoid selling GE fish, Reuters reports.
"We won't sell genetically engineered fish because we don't believe it is sustainable or healthy," said Trudy Bialic from PCC Natural Markets in Washington.
Whole Foods recently said it will require all products sold in its US and Canadian stores to carry a label by 2018 warning if the product contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and consumer groups are working at the state and federal levels to make labelling mandatory on such products.
"We applaud these retailers for listening to the vast majority of their customers who want sustainable, natural seafood for their families," added Hoffman, Chicago Tribune reports.
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By Natalia Real