Several years have passed since the days we were posting regular updates on tumblr and twitter about GMO salmon. Back then there was considerable controversy (they were dubbed, “Frankenfish”) and an international debate surrounding the first genetically modified animal approved for food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But now that the controversy has died down and the time is nearing when the bio-engineered fish will be available in U.S. supermarkets it remains to be seen if consumers will warm to the idea. To refresh your memory, here are some highlights on the matter:
-AquaBounty Technologies, the patent holder on the GMO salmon, has said U.S. supermarkets could begin selling the much-debated fish by the end of next year.
–What GMO fish is: Not to be confused with the fish from “salmon farming operations”, GMO fish (Atlantic salmon) are modified with added genes from other fish species to grow about twice as fast as conventional salmon. The GMO salmon was first concocted by a Canadian research team way back in the 1980s.
-AquaBounty’s salmon is the first genetically modified, or GMO, animal to be approved for human consumption in the U.S.
-The genetically modified salmon are also approved for sale in Canada.
-AquaBounty’s Indiana facility recently received the first batch of genetically engineered salmon eggs in the U.S., and they should be ready for harvesting in the final quarter of 2020–and available at some U.S. supermarkets shortly thereafter.
-Some U.S. grocery retail chains have flatly refused to sell the genetically engineered fish.
-The International Salmon Farmers Association continues to stand firm on their statement issued years ago that it “firmly rejects” the idea of GMO salmon because of environmental concerns. (One such concern has been that the GMO fish might escape into natural waters and mate with existing fish.)
-It remains unclear what, if any, additives (such as preservatives) will be applied to the fish during processing/prior to packaging and shipping.
-Like other genetically modified foods sold in the U.S., the GMO salmon has not been safety tested.