UPDATE: More companies say GMO salmon is not in their plans.
- Industry responses to the FDA's approval of AquaBounty's AquAdvantage GMO salmon are in, and as expected, they're mixed.
- Proponents argue that GMO salmon provides opportunity for improved sustainability in the seafood industry. "I might argue than it’s a more environmentally sustainable process than what is used currently for Atlantic salmon," Alison L. Van Eenennaam, a cooperative extension specialist at UC Davis who specializes in animal genomics and biotechnology, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "You can’t just look at the risk. I feel that the risks are being overblown and the benefits are being overlooked or willfully ignored."
- The Center for Food Safety, however, said it would sue the FDA over the decision. Some commercial fishermen and seafood sellers are unhappy with the FDA's announcement as well, as it could encourage further growth of farmed fish.
- Days after the approval, Friends of the Earth, a group of consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups announced that retailers have said they have not intention of selling modified salmon. Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Kroger and Target are not planning to sell AquAdvantage Salmon. Restaurant chain Red Lobster also will not sell the hotly-debated fish.
"The market is rejecting GMO salmon. Stores won’t sell it and people don't want to eat it," Dana Perls, food and technology policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said in a release.
"We’ve been fighting against GMO salmon for 10 years," Larry Collins, vice president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and former commercial fisherman, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It’s shockingly irresponsible of the FDA to allow this untested science to be tested on human guinea pigs."
"The true answer is that we don't know," Tako Kakutani of Pike Place Fish in Seattle told KOMO News. "We simply don't know what that might mean for us, what that might mean for the future of salmon, what that might mean for the industry at large as well."
As for who will sell the product, it won't be Kroger, which has "no intention of sourcing or selling genetically engineered salmon," spokesman Keith Dailey told Reuters, nor is it the plan for Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.
"We are not currently planning to offer genetically engineered salmon," said Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder.
The FDA has also released two guidance documents concerning GMO labeling: a draft guidance concerning food derived from Atlantic salmon that has or has not been genetically engineered and final guidance for foods derived from GM plants.
Industry groups praised the FDA for abiding by "sound science" rather than being swayed by consumer sentiment in terms of the agency's decision to not require GMO labeling, which entities like the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food said "would mislead consumers and drive up food costs."
"Our industry is committed to transparency and to addressing the increasing desire by shoppers for more information about the products they buy, use and consume. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to enact a uniform national standard for food labeling that would prevent a costly and confusing patchwork of state labeling mandates," said Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
The USDA recently said that changing the rules regarding GMOs will be a long and challenging endeavor with the best-case scenario for wrapping up an overhaul of regulations for GM crops being about three years from now.