Ask These Food Stores to Reject Frankenfish!
The first genetically engineered (GE) salmon - dubbed "frankenfish" - could be in grocery stores and restaurants as early as 2014. As consumers, we can help keep frankenfish off the market by letting food retailers know we won’t buy it.
On December 21, the FDA set in motion the approval of the first food from a genetically engineered animal when it released its environmental assessment (EA) of AquaBounty’s “AquAdvantage” transgenic salmon. During its required 60-day public comment period, the FDA has already received an earful from consumers who don’t want frankenfish on the menu. Nearly 70,000 people have already signed the Organic Consumers petition asking the FDA to reject frankenfish – and ours is one of many similar petitions.
But we have to do more. Please sign the letter below to executives at these top food retailer chains. Tell them you won’t shop at their stores if they stock frankenfish!
Consumer pressure works. In 2000, McDonald’s, Burger King, Pringles and McCain opposed Monsanto’s genetically engineered “New Leaf” potatoes. Their opposition kept these Bt-spliced “Frankenspuds” off the market.
In 2003, U.S. wheat farmers joined forces with General Mills and Frito-Lay to oppose Monsanto’s GE wheat. Their efforts killed commercialization of this multi-billion-dollar crop. And it was consumer pressure that forced Starbucks and other coffee brands to keep GE coffee off the market.
There’s no place in U.S. grocery stores for GE fish that is raised in Panama and imported to the U.S. - without labels telling us it’s been genetically engineered. We already know that problems abound with factory-farmed and imported seafood. In his recent article, “Today's Seafood Special: Pig Manure, Antibiotics, and Diarrhea Bugs,” Tom Philpott explains how the FDA is doing a lousy job of policing seafood imports. Philpott refers to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, revealing that 44 percent of the 39 foodborne-illness outbreaks caused by imports from 2005 to 2010 involved seafood - more than any other type of food.
Add to that the fact that the FDA has not adequately safety-tested GE salmon for possible long-term health effects on humans, and the new frankenfish is frankly a recipe for disaster.
If approved, AquaBounty’s frankenfish would most likely be sold as fillets, to restaurants and grocery stores. According to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, there is little chance it would end up in the canned salmon market. The OCA contacted executives at 17 national and regional food store chains. We received responses from four of them. You can read the list and responses here.
Please sign the letter below to executives at these top food retail chains. Tell them you won’t shop at their stores if they start stocking frankenfish!
What is frankenfish?
AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts-based biotech company, created the "AquAdvantage" salmon by injecting a fragment of DNA from an ocean pout fish, which is a type of eel, along with a growth hormone gene from the Chinook Pacific salmon, into a fertilised Atlantic salmon egg. The result? A salmon that produces growth hormone year round, instead of only during warm weather. This allows the fish to reach market weight in just 18 months, instead of the usual three years.
What are the risks?
1. Potential harm to human health. The FDA has allowed this fish to move forward based on tests of allergenicity of only six GE fish. Even with such limited testing, the results showed an increase in allergy-causing potential, according to Hansen. AquAdvantage also contains elevated levels of the growth hormone, IGF-1, which is linked to prostate, breast and colon cancers.
2. Potential harm to wild salmon population. Only 95% of the AquAdvantage salmon may be sterile, the rest fertile. Plus, the fish at the egg production facility in Prince Edward Island, Canada, will not be sterile. The FDA says the likelihood of the GE salmon escaping into the wild is "extremely remote" but gave little reassuring evidence to support that assumption. According to studies, the frankenfish eat five times more food than wild salmon, and have less fear of predators. All it would take is for some of these frankenfish to escape, and the world's wild salmon population would be at risk.
3. Unlabeled. Without GMO labeling, consumers will not be able to avoid frankenfish when it arrives in grocery stores and fish markets.
4. Less nutritious. GE salmon contains less Omega-3 fatty acids than non-GE salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are the "good" fat which has important health benefits.