Victory for Frankenfish and for Mother Earth
Michael Shellenberger November 19, 2015
After 20 years of regulatory scrutiny and political wrangling, the Food and Drug Administration finally approved a genetically modified salmon, one scientists say delivers large environmental benefits over existing farmed salmon.
Ironically, the salmon, known as AquAdvantage, was hotly opposed by environmental groups.
“This technology was about to be lost,” says Purdue University scientist William Muir, whose research helped FDA decide that the fish produced by AquaBounty Technologies is safe. “Nobody will invest in technology that can’t be commercialized, and you can’t commercialize without FDA approval.”
The AquAdvantage salmon grows to adult size twice as fast — in two rather than four years — and requires 20% less feed than today’s Atlantic salmon, 100% of which are already farmed.
It also requires no antibiotics, unlikely conventionally farmed Atlantic salmon, which public health officials warn can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
“AquAdvantage salmon is as safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious,” the FDA says.
But two large supermarket chains, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, say they will not carry the AquaBounty fish, even as spokespersons from both companies acknowledged that they sell foods made with genetically modified ingredients or feed.
Ninety percent of the world’s fish stocks are either over-fished or at capacity, but global demand for fish is expected to double by 2050 as the human population grows and poor nations become richer.