Genetically Modified Seafood:
What Does It Mean?
A couple of weeks ago, major grocery chains from Trader Joe’s to Aldi to Whole Foods along with a number of local stores announced that they would not be selling genetically engineered seafood. The stores represent more than 2,000 locations across the United States.
You may be wondering what this actually means. .. Will loads of fish be missing from the freezer displays you’re used to seeing? .. Why aren’t more stores jumping on board? .. And what is genetically engineered seafood, anyway?
As I write this post, genetically modified seafood is not something you are seeing in stores—yet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering approving genetically engineered salmon produced by a Massachusetts-based company. The salmon, called “AquAdvantage Salmon” have been bred with genes from other fish to grow faster, and year round, resulting in fish that grow in half the time of conventional salmon.
You are, however, seeing loads of other genetically modified, or GMO, foods in your grocery store. According to an article in the Huffington Post, the United States is the world’s largest market for foods made with GMO ingredients. This is not without debate, though: Recently, Whole Foods Markets announced that by 2018, they will require all products sold in their stores to disclose whether they contain GMO ingredients. And this past Election Day, California voted on Prop 37, a fiercely debated initiative that would have required labeling for all GMO foods.
Proponents of the genetically modified fish say it is an environmentally sustainable alternative to farmed salmon that will grow more fish faster, closer to home, and with less feed.
Critics say that genetically modified foods such as this salmon (or, “frankenfish,” as they’ve referred to it) have not been sufficiently tested for safety and can present a serious risk for people with food allergies. It could also pose a risk to the natural salmon population if it were to escape into the wild and breed with other fish.
And of course, there’s also the “ick” factor. Shouldn’t fish just be, well, fish?
I’m thrilled that these supermarket chains are taking a stand on GMO fish.
I’m not a fan of GMO food in general for the reasons listed above; but GMO fish downright scares me—I have an allergy to certain types of fish that I am careful to avoid.
What if the salmon I eat has been genetically altered with tilapia
that I can't eat?
What do you think about genetically modified fish and all foods?
Would you be less likely to buy something
if it was labeled “Genetically Modified”?