On the Subject of GM Salmon

Genetically modified salmon has recently been given the metaphorical green light by the Food and Drug Administration.  There is no requirement mandating proper labeling of this genetically modified salmon; however, the FDA has floated the idea that the salmon may be labeled optionally.  If this optional labeling were to take place, it would appear as though each seafood corporation could make its own decision regarding the level of detail that they will provide their consumers regarding the manner in which their salmon was raised (Pollack).

Purdue University Professor William Muir, a proponent of GM salmon, says that “the current practice of using wild caught salmon as a food source is not sustainable; our oceans are overfished.”  Additionally, Professor Muir states that “this development provides a safe and sustainable alternative.”  Conversely, opponents of genetically modified salmon are concerned about the health of wild salmon if the GM salmon were to escape from their confinement (Pollack).

At this time, I am opposed to the genetic engineering of salmon.  Yes, I am disappointed with the haphazard proposals, if we can even call them that, for labeling GM salmon.  Yes, I am doubtful that the GM salmon will never escape their confinement- and I am skeptical about what their escape means for the reproductive success of wild salmon.  Nevertheless, the aspect of this controversy that I find most perplexing is that genetic engineering has become an increasingly acceptable, even expected, aspect of our food system.  Does the future of our food system look like genetically modified… everything?

I look forward to hearing your opinion on this matter!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Pollack, Andrew. “Genetically Engineered Salmon Approved for Consumption.” New York Times. 19 Nov. 2015: The New York Times Company. Web. 28 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/20/business/genetically-engineered-salmon-approved-for-consumption.html?_r=0>

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10 thoughts on “On the Subject of GM Salmon

  1. Boo Radley

    I agree with you, Katie. I am opposed to all genetically modified foods. We can just never be sure of the unintended consequences of messing with Mother Nature. I have been reading that while one of the great “benefits” of using GMOs is that we can grow/raise more food this way, in actuality the opposite is true; organic crops yield more food per acre than their modified brethren.

    As for the salmon, let’s suppose that eventually one or more of these salmon make it to the wild. We will never again know if what we are eating is “real” or not! Scary!

    I am so against the corruption of our food sources and it is absolutely appalling to me that the United States is allowing these methods to proliferate. I understand that there is a lot of money to be made from patenting GMOs and other business aspects of agriculture. But I think we are playing with things that we don’t fully understand. And really, now that there are modified crops, will we ever again know that we are eating “real” food? Aren’t birds and insects going to help muddy the waters?

    I am upset by all of this. I read about it and feel a little powerless. What can we do if we want to help institute change?

    1. Thank you for your perspective!

      In terms of what we can do if we want to help institute change, the first action item I would recommend is scouting out food products that are labeled with the Non-GMO Project seal– hint: it has a small orange butterfly on the label. By purchasing items with this label, your dollars are supporting farmers and manufacturers that harvest and produce crops and/or products that are non-GMO. Additionally, I think that the Non-GMO Project website is a tremendous resource for further information about genetically modified organisms. Here is the link: http://www.nongmoproject.org

      Please let me know if this is helpful!

      1. Boo Radley

        Thanks so much for this link, Katie! It has a lot of good information on doing as you say and “voting with your wallet”. My concern is that in the meantime, in the absence of the abolishment of GMOs, we are slowly tainting all of our food supplies.

        Thank you for this post, for your thoughtful replies to everyone, and for keeping us all thinking about such an important topic-fuel for our bodies!

    1. It is so awesome to hear from you! I hope that you and your family enjoyed a very Happy Thanksgiving as well! Thank you so much for commenting… your kind words made my day!

      On the subject of GM salmon, I’d be interested to hear your perspective. What are your thoughts on this issue?

      Again, thank you so much for writing. I hope that all is well!

  2. Paige

    Thanks for exploring this topic! I am torn, because I have read multiple articles about how the ocean is predicted to be empty by 2040 due to overfishing yet GMOs freak me out and do not seem safe or natural for our bodies to process. I think the only logical response would be to cut down on consumption levels and bring the demand for species being harmed down.

    1. That’s an interesting point… decreasing our consumption of salmon would certainly appear to resolve this conflict to some degree. How do you think the global community could go about decreasing the demand for wild salmon? Thank you for commenting!

    2. Biochem nerd here, procrastinating on his homework: Reducing damage to an overfished/hunted species is always a good idea, no matter how you do it. And GMOs are a viable way to do this. As someone who has done a bit of work with chemicals produced by GM organisms, as well as making a few GM bacteria, I cannot argue that GMOs are so inherently unnatural. Although they may seem scary to people who are not familiar with them, they are, actually, not inherently different from most other organisms that you eat. In fact, recent research has shown that many organisms, including humans (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/03/humans-may-harbor-more-100-genes-other-organisms), show numerous signs of having naturally experienced horizontal gene transfer (gaining genes from other organisms) in the past. This is actually more random and more potentially detrimental than genetic modification, and so far it doesn’t seem to have caused any noteworthy issues over the course of several billion years of evolution.

      As conscientious citizens, we must ask whether we should let our fears get ahead of viable solutions to making repairs to Earth’s currently ravaged ecology, while still supporting human development.

  3. Jen

    Having lived in different parts of this country, I have to say the worst encounter I ever thought I would find with salmon is not being able buy it freshly fished. I have seen signs in fine print that state, color added to look like fresh salmon… Now we are dealing with GMO and “fresh” fish. I am appalled that this is now the expected norm for society. Has the food industry bothered to ask the fishermen how we can sustain our inventory? I am grateful I live near a Whole Foods that advertises “Non-GMO” salmon. Thank you for blogging about this Katie!

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