I’m sure that everyone, at some point, has heard about GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Whether it be in the coffee shop, at school or in the news GMO’s have been, and will continue to be, a hot topic. Especially since the FDA is considering approving the sale of GMO salmon for consumption. If accepted, the salmon, produced by AquaBounty, would be the first genetically modified animal in the food supply. Obviously, this is a hot topic for both foodies, producers, policymakers and consumers (which includes all of the aformentioned).
You may have your own opinion on this matter but do you truly know what GMO’s are, let alone GMO salmon? Let’s delve further into the topic.
What is a GMO? A GMO is an organism in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. The process of making GMO’s is often called ‘modern biotechnology’ or gene technology’.
Why are GMO’s produced? Simple – they present a significant advantage over conventional products to the producer, consumer or often times, both parties. Some common GMO’s are soy, corn, cotton and canola.
What are those advantages? In the crop industry, GMO’s are more insect resistant, herbicide tolerant and have increased virus resistance. They stay healthier which in turn, increases yields.
Are GMO’s safe? All GMO’s currently used in the food supply are safe. Specific systems have been set up for the rigorous evaluation of GM organisms and GM foods relative to both human health and the environment. Similar evaluations are generally not performed for traditional foods. Hence there is a significant difference in the evaluation process prior to marketing for these two groups of food. GM foods are tested more rigorously than traditional foods.
As with all technological advances in the food industry there are risks such as, allerginicity and nutritional effects. However, scientists perform extensive testing to ensure that the effects of those risks stay in the lab in order to be altered and bred out of the organism. Again, GMO’s are tested more rigorously than traditional food.
So, back to the GMO salmon. These “AquAdvantage® Salmon” grow into full-sized fish in half the time that it would take a regular salmon. Let me elaborate, simply. Faster growing fish = more fish = more meat for a hungry world.
However, the FDA didn’t use my economic knowledge to make their decision and concluded that there presently isn’t sufficient evidence to accept or deny the fish into the food supply. Many consumers don’t want GMO food forced upon them. However, I feel that the answer to this dilemma would be a label for GMO salmon (voluntary not mandated) thus allowing the producer to be aware of what he/she is purchasing and providing yet another option at the grocery store. But that’s just my opinion – and you know what they say about opinions…..
To learn more about GMO’s click HERE! (World Health Organization – where I got my facts)
Until next time,