Since the discussion on genetically modified salmon started this November, GM salmon was approved by FDA but labeled by Congress, with the chance of being completely taken off the market being very likely. Some senators have even claimed that this fish couldn’t even be called salmon due to its genetic modification.
The fear that if this GM salmon would get released in the wild and allowed to breed with normal salmon, it would spell disaster, has been shared by farmers, as well as environmental activists. The Food and Drug Administration allowed the fish’s commercialization, following their claim that scientifically, no difference was found between GM salmon and normal salmon. Their labeling as a genetically modified product was deemed voluntary, but the senator of Alaska pointed to the fact that most producers will opt to not advertise their product as such.
This is one of the reasons why the US Congress made genetically modified product require a label stating their source. Extensive labeling towards other elements such as country of origin was also proposed towards the FDA.
This discussion is rather taboo in the US, mainly due to the fear that these genetically modified products might threaten the health of every US citizen. But some people claim that we already eat genetically modified meats, pointing to the way in which we feed the chickens and cows that eventually wind up on our plates. Steroids, thorough vaccination, specially selected foods, all of these modify the internal structure of the animal, similar to how genetic modification does.
Environmental activists do have a point when discussing the impact of these types of animals being released into the wild. By modifying them in order to better suit our needs, scientists do not focus on their wildlife behavior, as well as their breeding, in the same manner. The probability that their release would eventually bring their natural counterparts’ extinction is not completely without foundation.
Companies like the organic and all-natural Whole Foods was immediate in their decision to not commercialize GM salmon, being joined by Costco and Trader Joe. But it is currently unclear if this move was made as a marketing campaign or if the companies seriously dismiss this type of food source.
People will have to face the fact that genetically modified products, as well as cloned meats, will become necessary in the near future, with the looming threat of shortened food supplies being felt all over the world. China has been the first towards making steps in assuring that their country will suffer less from this event, by funding the construction of a cow cloning factory. This factory will produce around 1 million cloned cows by 2022. The odds of other countries approaching similar problems from this angle is likely to say the least. It all depends on the balance between supply and demand, as well as the mentality of the public masses towards this allegedly unethical subject.
Even if GM salmon was approved by FDA but labeled by Congress, this doesn’t mean that other companies like AquaBounty, the producers of said salmon, won’t turn to genetically modified sources of supply. It all depends on the state of the current natural supply as well as its viability in the coming years. For examples, bananas are currently facing the threat of extinction. There might be a company out there currently researching a GM banana that can withstand the tropical virus which currently decimates the banana population.