As reported in Food Safety News Target is the latest retailer to sign a pledge to not sell genetically engineered salmon. The Friends of the Earth Campaign for GE Free Seafood now includes a wide and extensive list of retailers including Aldi (owner of Trader Joes), Trader Joes, Whole Foods, H.E.B. Giant Eagle and Meijer. For more on the Campaign for GE Fee Seafood see Friends of the Earth.
Genetically engineered salmon has been under consideration for approval by the FDA since 1996 when Massachusetts based AquaBounty developed first applied for approval for its AquAdvantage salmon, first applied for approval. The FDA is expected to issue a ruling sometime this year.
As reported in the article “the salmon is a modified Atlantic salmon that takes a growth-promoting gene from Chinook salmon and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout that allows it to grow year-round. The result is a salmon that grows to full size in 18 months instead of 3 years.
Groups opposed to GE salmon say that if the fish escaped into natural ecosystems it could spread its genes and out-compete natural salmon. AquaBounty contends there is virtually no chance of that happening, as all the fish are bred to be sterile and all female, along with being raised in landlocked tanks that don’t touch natural waters. All fish will also be slaughtered and processed in Panama before being shipped to the U.S.”
The announcement that Target and other retailers would reject GE salmon coincided with the publication of a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society that found hybrids between AquAdvantage salmon and wild brown trout acquired the ability to grow faster than hybrids between trout and non-GE salmon. The study, which is the first of its kind, also found that those GE hybrids out-competed the wild varieties for food.
In a response to the study, AquaBounty said that while the authors acknowledge the GE hybrids would be “improbable in nature,” the study failed to mention that the hybrids would be sterile.”