A new food may be coming to your dinner table that has been genetically modified and bio-engineered to grow faster and bigger. But you might not know that it has been genetically engineered. The FDA is considering allowing a type of Salmon that is being dubbed as “Frankenfish” to be approved for human consumption. It would be the first bio-engineered and genetically modified food to hit dinner tables in the United States.
The “Frankenfish” was created by the company AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. and refers to the genetically altered Salmon as AquAdvantage Salmon. Several non-profit organizations, Food & Water Watch and Consumer’s Union, are against the bio-engineered fish hitting the market saying more testing and studies are needed to demonstrate the safety of the fish. AquaBounty claims that the genetically modified fish is just as safe as non-modified salmon. Consumer’s Union has also argued that if the salmon goes to market that is must be labeled as genetically engineered for consumer safety reasons.
Concerns of Non-Labeling
One of the biggest concerns of the non-profit groups is that if the new bio-engineered salmon hits store shelves without a label is the health risks involved. Consumers who buy the fish unknowing that the fish is genetically modified may experience unexpected health effects such as allergies to the fish. Consumers will be unable to say that the fish that caused the allergy/illness was genetically modified. Another concern, is that without labeling consumers lose the right to know what they are putting in their bodies by eating the fish.
Why the FDA Doesn’t Need a Label
According to the FDA’s overview on food labeling, “Nutrition labeling for raw produce (fruits and vegetables) and fish is voluntary.” Also, the FDA does not require altered foods to be labeled if they show no material difference in the final product. This leaves AquaBounty open to deciding whether or not to label the “Frankenfish”.
What You Might Not Know
The FDA does not do independent testing of genetically engineered animals. The company seeking approval from the FDA to place a food product on the market hands its own information over to the FDA.
On Monday September 20, 2010 the FDA advisory panel and the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee met to debate and discuss whether to endorse the safety of AquAdvantage Salmon. However, the panel called for more studies on the safety of the “Frankenfish”. Testimony on the labeling of the fish, if any labels will be required upon approval of the “Frankenfish”, was heard on September 21, 2010 by the advisory panel.
Question to Readers:
Do you think that AquaBounty has the responsibility to label the bio-engineered and genetically modified fish if approved for human consumption?
Answer in the comments section below.
FDA on AquaBounty Salmon