In a blow to Alaska’s salmon industry, the Food and Drug Administration announced this morning it has approved genetically modified salmon, finding it is as safe to eat as natural salmon. It’s the first such modified animal approved for human consumption in the United States.
Alaska’s industry and congressional delegation have derided the product as “frankenfish.” Critics have tried to keep it off the market, questioning both its safety and its potential to damage wild salmon stocks. The FDA, though, agreed with the Massachusetts-based manufacturer AquaBounty, finding the fish pose little risk to the environment because they would be reared in closed, land-based facilities in Canada and Panama. The federal government does not require labeling to identify genetically modified food. The FDA today released draft labeling guidance for manufacturers who choose to label their salmon as genetically engineered or not.
National environmental groups and natural food advocates have also fought to keep the engineered salmon out of the marketplace. Friends of the Earth says more than 60 grocery chains — including Safeway, Target, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods — have committed not to sell genetically modified fish. Activists have been leaning hard on Costco.