Aquaculture

See all articles

Genetically modified salmon opponents air 'frankenfish' fears

Groups warn a lack of labeling for what they dub 'frankenfish' could leave consumers in the dark.

NGOs, politicians, fishermen and even a Fortune 500 CEO are raising alarm over the FDA's decision last week to allow transgenic salmon to be grown and sold on the US market.

The groups, many of which have had a long-standing opposition to AquaBounty's genetically modified salmon plans, took to social media and released statements blasting the decision and calling for more transparent labeling.

"For the FDA to lift an import ban on 'frankenfish' without requiring clear labeling to show that these products are genetically engineered is a disservice to consumers and a blow to Alaska’s hardworking fishing communities," the United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA), which represents fishermen and seafood-related companies operating in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, said in a statement.

The UFA and others opposed to genetically modified salmon being sold in the United States argue that companies such as AquaBounty, which could be offering product for sale by 2020, could be able to sell product to unwitting consumers that otherwise might choose not to eat it.

The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, which will implement labeling nationwide on foods that “are or may be bioengineered" by 2020, will not be mandatory until 2022, opponents noted.

The UFA said it strongly supports the efforts of its state Congressional delegation, which includes Alaska's senior Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who has proposed legislation that would require any genetically engineered salmon to be clearly labeled as such.

Murkowski recently called the FDA's decision 'wrong-headed' noting that in addition to concerns around labeling the fish, she has "serious concerns about splicing DNA from two animals to produce a new marketable fish, essentially creating a new species."

A post from her Facebook page decrying the FDA's decision was met with nearly 80 heated comments on it, one stating, "between the FDA, the EPA, and the Army Corps of Engineers I'm beginning to think the Trump Administration is dead set on wiping out wild salmon for good."

The majority of comments on her post tied the FDA's decision back to the Trump Administration, and noted a concern with administration's focus on deregulation.

Her sentiments were echoed by fellow Republican Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, who called the decision "unjustified"on Twitter.

Rose Marcario, CEO of outdoor clothing company Patagonia, described the decision as part of a "continued arrogance that humans can dominate nature."

She also linked the FDA's decision to the Trump Administration, stating wild rivers and wild fish are already being impacted by "weakened government oversight."

"Scientists and watchdog groups indicate that genetically modified salmon pose serious risks to health, wild fish populations, local fishing economies and the environment — and labeling laws won’t go into effect until 2022, leaving citizens in the dark," she said.

The Non-GMO Project, an environmental advocacy nonprofit with over one million followers on Facebook, said consumers could look to the nonprofit for "verified non-GMO options" until the USDA's GMO labeling laws are implemented.

Latest news
Most read