Thursday, federal regulators approved genetically engineered salmon as fit for consumption. This makes the fish the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for U.S. supermarkets and dining.
According to reports, AquaBounty Technologies, a small company that first approached the F.D.A. about approval in the 1990s, has been at the forefront to fight for the fish to be made available for sale to the public.
The approval has been fiercely opposed by some consumer and environmental groups, who say that the safety studies were inadequate and that wild salmon populations might not be able to compete with the now super-salmon for survival.
“This unfortunate, historic decision disregards the vast majority of consumers, many independent scientists, numerous members of Congress and salmon growers around the world, who have voiced strong opposition,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement.
Will the genetically engineered salmon be marked as such? Officials said no, aligning with a policy consistent with its stance on foods made from genetically engineered crops. However, the FDA issued draft guidance for the wording on packages for the salmon that can used voluntarily by companies who choose to offer it.
According to research, most Americans do not feel genetically altered food is harmless to their health, with a recent Gallup poll noting less than 35% believe it presents a hazard risk. However, among African Americans,there is more of a concern about genetically modified (GM) foods, with black consumers looking for GM food labels more frequently, and more black consumers say it’s unsafe than white.
Consumers and foodies have had mixed reactions to the news, with some swearing off salmon altogether while other shrugging off the latest approval as just another part of science evolution:
— Bridget Moynahan (@bridgetmoynahan) November 20, 2015
GMO Salmon? Its getting outta hand now.
— Marquette King (@MarquetteKing) November 20, 2015
#FDA, whom we have never met, approves genetically modified salmon; it grows market size in 1/2 the time. Poor fish! Poor us! Don’t eat it!
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) November 20, 2015
It only took the FDA 20 years to let you eat GM salmon. So please don’t say it wasn’t tested enough! https://t.co/PlHnyQRYmw
— C. S. Prakash (@AgBioWorld) November 20, 2015