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Brouhaha over GM salmonprint

Brouhaha over GM salmon image

Fast-forward 12 years, and now that AquaBounty’s GM Atlantic salmon, called AquAdvantage® Salmon, is nearing approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a firestorm has erupted over what could be the United States’ first GM animal approved for human consumption.

While there are many issues at hand, what vexes most consumer groups is the labeling issue. Should a GM farmed salmon be labeled as such? I’ve always been a proponent of giving the consumer as much information as possible and let them choose. But the FDA says it can’t require a different label under current food-labeling rules — the GM salmon doesn’t have any major differences between it and traditional farmed salmon.

U.S. retailers are already mandated under country-of-origin labeling regulations to show if a seafood species is wild or farmed and the harvest origin. But how would they add GM to that label? I can see the display case tag now: “farmed salmon, previously frozen, combination ocean pout and chinook salmon, Canada.” That’s a sure sales winner.

And how are retail counter staff going to keep the GM product from not being mixed in the case with the traditional farmed salmon? Maybe a whole new branded product name for the GM salmon can be developed to make it easy to differentiate in the market. The seafood industry loves tinkering with names to make a species more attractive. How about “salpo” (salmon + pout)?

Clearly, there are a lot of issues to be fleshed out, and the FDA has its hands full listening to all of those opinions. Hopefully, the original product, which is supposed to make closed-containment farmed salmon more economically feasible, doesn’t get lost in the brouhaha.



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