In December, the FDA said genetically engineered fish would have "no significant impact" on the environment and would be as safe to eat as "real" salmon. They are accepting public comments on these findings until April 26.
The FDA doesn't even do its own testing of genetically engineered animals: it relies on information provided by the company that wants approval. And because genetically engineered salmon are being considered as a new animal drug, the process isn't focused on what happens to people who eat genetically engineered animals. So on top of the health concerns posed by raising salmon in crowded factory fish farms that rely on antibiotics and other chemicals, the FDA could be adding the unknown risks of genetically engineered salmon to the mix.
"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 State in a statement. "It is troubling that the FDA is recommending approval of AquaBounty's salmon as a ‘new animal drug,' subjecting these engineered creatures to less rigorous safety standards than food additives (for humans). That's not a credible safety assessment."
"Simply put, this genetically engineered fish is unnecessary and is a problem masquerading as a solution," said Heather Whitehead, online campaigns director at The Center for Food Safety, in a statement.
The U.S. is the world's largest market for GMO foods because labeling isn't required. GMO foods are rarely found in the 60 countries that require labeling.
Last week, Whole Foods said all products with GMOs will be labeled in its stores by 2018. Organizers in 30 states are working on initiatives to require GMO labels.
Photo of a salmon run provided by Ryan Staake via Flickr.