There are ethical, environmental, and health concerns that make the introduction of GMO salmon controversial. (Photo: The Food Revolution Network)
Fate of GM salmon in US market may be decided this week
Thursday, April 25, 2013, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
AquaBounty Technologies has been experimenting with genetically modified (GM) salmon at a remote shed in the Panamanian rainforest miles 1,500m above sea level. The firm may soon deliver the first GM animal meant for human consumption: a larger, faster-growing salmon, which has stirred heated debate.
This week, the US Government is approaching the end of its deliberations on whether a GM food should be approved for human consumption at all. The public consultation ending on Friday may determine whether AquaBounty’s 20 years of work on GM salmon have been worthwhile.
Opponents in Congress this week are fighting back with a bill that would ban GM salmon altogether and destroy AquaBounty's chance of entering the US market. Opponents also include retailers, consumer groups, environmental organisations and commercial fishers, all of whom are not interested in selling GM fish and vowed to boycott it, The Guardian reports.
Public opinion varies. Some proponents of the GM fish argue that injecting salmon with seal eel genes to make the fish produce growth hormone year-round so it will mature bigger and faster is analogous to breeding animals selectively, except more quickly.
Others point out that many opponents do not actually know how the science works, and that it is lack of knowledge that is provoking their rejection.
Opponents highlight that, in fact, no independent research has been conducted to show that these salmon will be safe to eat and have no adverse health effects, and mention that GM corn and GM soy have never been proven safe to eat by independent research. What's more, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is being accused of selling out, as it has refused to run studies on the GM salmon and any possible side effects that would be caused by consuming it.
Concerns exist that long-term tests are necessary to ensure public health before a GM animal is approved for humans to eat, and that so far it has just been AquaBounty that has been involved in GM salmon studies, making any results highly biased and underscoring a lack of peer-reviewed studies.
- Alaskan Reps defy preliminary GM salmon safety finding
- Consumer group warns of FDA's impending approval of GM fish
By Natalia Real