Many scientific advancements benefit society; there’s no doubt about that. Some issues, however, fall into that fuzzy area of ‘is it progress or will it do harm even if the intentions are good?’ One of those issues is modification of the food supply at its very core: on the genetic level.
Very soon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may approve commercial sales of the first genetically engineered (GE) food animal; GE salmon may soon be sold at a grocery store near you. That may not bother some but it should be noted that consumers will not know what they’re purchasing; the salmon will not be labeled as an engineered creation.
Tomorrow, April 26th, the FDA’s deadline for public comments will be reached; it’s the last time the public will have an opportunity to comment. Some may say that as long as we’re finding new ways to feed the planet’s ever-growing population then there’s nothing about which we should either complain or fear — but that oversimplifies things and ignores that there are risks.
According to molecular biologist Dr. John Fagan, those risks include:
- New toxins and allergens in foods
- Other damaging effects on health caused by unnatural foods
- Increased use of chemicals on crops, resulting in increased contamination of our water supply and food
- The creation of herbicide-resistant weeds
- The spread of diseases across species barriers
- Loss of bio-diversity in crops
- The disturbance of ecological balance
- Artificially induced characteristics and inevitable side-effects will be passed on to all subsequent generations and to other related organisms. Once released, they can never be recalled or contained. The consequences of this are incalculable.
Given GE salmon’s higher hormone levels and the increased allergens that put consumers at risk, the inadequate response from the FDA to date has not properly addressed the potential food safety risks and environmental impacts posed by GE salmon.
The organisation Food and Water Watch has outlined various human health risks of consuming GE foods but the FDA is ignoring the fact that concerned Americans have already expressed their disapproval for GE foods, especially those that are unlabeled as such. Despite that tomorrow ends the comment period, all of the comment periods will not alter the fact that consumers reject genetically modified food animals.
Is there any need to put human health and the environment at risk for GE salmon?
The FDA needs to say ‘no’ to GE salmon. Interested? Join the battle for safe food by signing the petition linked here.
Image credit: Greenberg Art