Ok, so I get that with all the recent media exposure to food triangles, and general misconception that healthy foods are super expensive, that scientists and sociologists alike are looking for answers to the future of our planet's health. Thinking globally, and acting locally is what we are supposed to do. So when the FDA approved genetically modified Atlantic salmon, developed by MA-based company Aquabounty, to go to the final stages of research before it hits the market here in early 2013, it raised many questions regarding the labeling of GMO products, as well as how this will affect the natural habitat and genetics of wild salmon, and therefore, the salmon that ends up on our grocery shelves and in our restaurant kitchens.
Aquasalmon, as it is being labeled, is comprised of DNA material from Chinook salmon, as well as the lesser known ocean pout, eel's cousin, that together allow the fish to produce growth hormones year-round, instead of just during the warm-weather months that their natural salmon brethren and sisterhood allow. This is supposed to not only increase the size of the fish produced, but also cut production costs simultaneously. The biggest fear is, and has always been, what if these superfish escape their pens and mate with wild salmon, therefore jeopardizing the entire food chain? If this goes through, the GMO salmon will be the first modified animal-based product to hit the U.S. food market. Dating back to a NY Times article in 2002, they note that the salmon "would sit alongside genetically engineered corn and potatoes, which have been available for several years." Since the inception of GMO corn and potatoes, they have been controversial on the topics of health and long-term effects of unnatural food consumption, and especially in regards to the visibility that the products, are, in fact, genetically modified. This is because U.S. regulations do not requre GMO foods be labeled as such in the stores. But when has anyone ever said that leaving out information wasn't lying? Ask any boyfriend - it is. It kind of seems to me that GMO foods are a huge chunk of information that has been left out and makes the story not quite right- they want you to think it's all ok and doesn't negatively effect your body, and saves you money in the long run, but do they even know for sure? And shouldn't we as consumers have the right to at least know where the stuff comes from that we put into our bodies? If they were so sure, wouldn't they slap a label on it and be proud of this revolutionary product?
This is where the class-war also comes into play, as researchers say this will drive down the cost of salmon, a very healthy protein alternative to what most Americans can regularly afford. Dangling healthy options in front of the lower classes who couldn't previously afford this fish almost guarantees a whole new profitable market, and at a rapid growth, too, with how quickly these fish are supposed to repopulate. Further, these farmed "frankenfish," as they are being called by the salmon-poser opposers, will be raised in a Net pen system. This bodes for water contamination as well. According to the Wild Salmon Center, "Net pen salmon are also hosts for disease and parasites like sea lice, which attack wild salmon during their migrations. To confront the sea lice, salmon farmers use antibiotics and pesticides, which flow into the ecosystem as well." Doesn't sound like anything I'd want to ingest...I'd rather just stick with the natural kind that we already have?
To me it's just most disturbing that once these frankenfish get to market , that consumers will not know what they are purchasing; whether they are buying the recently-rejuvenated-off-the-endangered-species-list wild salmon that boosts Omega-3's and lowers cholestrol or, this mix of weird salmon and eely-giant-weird-scary-fish-beef that hasn't been around long enough to even know exactly what it does.
If they're going to put this through to market, supposedly to be confirmed 60 days from December 21, 2012, according to the FDA, it will be the face of a new generation of food for the U.S. Personally, I'm totally tweaked out about this and what it means for our future. Here's some reasons I think you should be too.
1. OCEAN POUT sounds like the saddest/ grossest thing to eat
No one likes a party pooper, who wants to ingest something born pouty? Sounds like energy I don't want flowing through my system. Also - they look super disgusting and slimy. Plus I just think of those 2 evil eels from The Little Mermaid, who are sworn enemies FOR LIFE.
When there is a B-movie based on the true events of a GMO snakehead fish in MD overpopulating a pond and forcing local people to kill them all out of fear of what it would do just to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The snakehead fish is known to be aggressive, and is able to walk on land for brief periods of time. WHAT THE HECK. Before we know it, the Aquasalmon will be walking the land, coming to your door, asking for money. Seriously. They are going to turn into the new Sierra Club beggars downtown, even, taking jobs from our idealistic youth.
3. Why is now the time?
This has been a discussion for ages, and now, animal-based GMO's are ok. Why now? The topic still remains a serious environmental concern, in relation to the potential effects on wild salmon. And after working for years to get those same wild salmon off the endangered species list, why is now the time we're ok with risking going fully backwards with that? I guess this also applies to- hey, how about let's avoid all use of franken-anything , now, and in the future? I think we can all agree it's never worked out well. (Insert Al Franken joke here)
4. If this is true...
Do you want to be a monster? What if you didn't even know you were ingesting monster? AH! SO SCARY
5. This could change the GMO labeling outcome forever.
We could really come to a negotiation on what this means with the FDA. If we demand that GMO food gets labeled through our voting power, it will change the face of health forever. Having the choice to buy natural products, when labeled correctly, will shift supply and demand and allow our farmers to grow without the use of pesticides and affordable GMO animal feed that effects the whole food chain. If we don't use this GMO salmon discussion to catalyze an actual change in the transparency of our food system and where our food comes from, it's like we are asking for health risks, and ain't nobody got time for that!