FDA approved the first genetically engineered fish which they have determined is safe for our food supply. The fish is engineered to grow faster, which will, of course, make it a more abundant food source. Who knew a fish could be approved through a new animal drug application (NADA)? Not me!
FDA states in its announcement of the approval:
“The FDA scientists rigorously evaluated extensive data submitted by the manufacturer, AquaBounty Technologies, and other peer-reviewed data, to assess whether AquAdvantage salmon met the criteria for approval established by law; namely, safety and effectiveness. The data demonstrated that the inserted genes remained stable over several generations of fish, that food from the GE salmon is safe to eat by humans and animals, that the genetic engineering is safe for the fish, and the salmon meets the sponsor’s claim about faster growth.”
I guess it is bioequivalent to other salmon but that must be related to taste. But, wait-with all the health-minded consumers shopping for their food, wouldn’t they want to know that their salmon was bioengineered rather that farm grown or wild? I am sure they would, and that is why FDA also issued two draft Guidance documents discussing permissible voluntary labeling statement relative to genetically modified Atlantic Salmon (here) and also a final Guidance on voluntary labeling on whether or not a food has been derived from genetically engineered plants (here) . With Thanksgiving around the corner, these guidance documents should give us great comfort as I am certain that the companies that do not use genetic engineered food components would be chomping at the bit to label their products with truthful statement indicating that they contain no genetically engineered material. As for Thanksgiving at my house, well, we have two vegetarians, two vegans, one pescatarian, and a bunch of carnivores coming over. I better get started on the labeling for the three different types of gravy, which product is gluten free, which is vegan and which has no lactose. Thank goodness we bought an organic, free range, no antibiotic turkey that received three full body massages in the last month, and a Tofurkey, whatever in God’s name that is. Oh yeah and that no antibiotic containing, humanely raised poultry costs $3.99/lb. Whatever happened to eating a regular turkey for 67 cents a pound?
I actually can’t wait to taste the new salmon. Perhaps it will have a more consistent taste than the wide variety of salmon that are currently available in the stores. So what is next on the agenda? You just never know what to expect from FDA. Happy Thanksgiving everybody – oh yeah – be sure to read the labels at the dinner table this year!