Alex Pietrowski, Contributor
Genetically-modified (GM) Atlantic salmon is biotech’s next venture as they circumvent nature in an effort to create salmon that grows twice as fast as wild salmon – making fish production more profitable. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement last Friday, on the eve of a national holiday weekend, stating that genetically modified salmon poses no serious threats to human health or the environment.
After conducting an environmental assessment concerning GM fish, the FDA has given AquaBounty Technologies, the GM-fish producer out of Massachusetts, initial approval to develop the salmon for commercial production. The public has 60 days to respond to the environmental assessment before the FDA will make the approval of AquaBounty’s application official. AquaBounty created the GM salmon in 1989 by injecting genes from an ocean Pout fish and a Chinook Pacific salmon into a fertilized Atlantic salmon egg.
Other GM animals have been created around the world. For example, the “spider-goat,” which has a single gene from a golden orb-weaving spider, produces milk that contains spiders silk and is used to make bullet proof vests. GM chickens produced in Great Britain are injected with a bird flu gene, which prevents them from spreading the disease.
GMO opponents argue that raising GM salmon and other GM animals may have a significant impact on wild animal populations, and may also negatively affect the fishing industry. Wild salmon is already endangered in the US. These problems are further underpinned by the potential impact that many believe GMO may have on human health.
For the general American public, the availability of GM salmon may go unnoticed because labeling of foods that are genetically altered is not mandated. Coalition groups and public officials in over 30 US states are fighting for the people’s fundamental right to know what is in their food.
Most recently, New Mexico’s Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), has proposed an amendment for debate in 2013 that would ensure that all food products that contain GMOs or are genetically altered would be clearly labeled. Wirth comments, “The premise of this amendment is simple – New Mexicans deserve the right to know what’s in the food they are eating and feeding to their families.” (Digital Journal)
It is believed that California’s Proposition 37 initiative, which lost on the November ballot, was defeated because Monsanto, pesticide companies and large food producers spent $46 million on publicity campaigns convincing the public that GMO labeling is not in the public’s interest and that GM foods are completely safe.
Yet, research continues to surface proving the opposite: consuming GMO foods carries certain risks of disease and even cancer, may cause reproductive difficulties, and may shut down certain genes. GMO biotechnology also presents a significant threat to the integrity and diversity of the world’s food supply, although GMO supporters will argue that genetic engineering of our food is necessary to address the growing global food demand and food shortages and deal with agricultural challenges such as climate change. Eleanor Bravo, Food and Water Watch’s New Mexico Organizer states, “We need the research of genetic engineering to be expanded beyond the companies who own the seeds and stand to profit, and labeling will allow this to happen.” (Digital Journal)
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com, and an avid student of Yoga and life.