Canadians Can Eat Genetically Enhanced Salmon; Americans Can't

Because Congress requires the FDA to come up with a "frankenfish" labeling scheme



Our neighors to the north can now enjoy salmon genetically enhanced to grow faster and eat less feed. Thanks to absurd overregulation, Americans can't.

The Atlantic salmon are enhanced using a Chinook salmon gene that enables them to grow much faster using less feed. Nature News reports that AquaBounty Technologies, which developed the fish, has now sold nearly five tons of it to customers in Canada. The company applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get approval for its genetically enhanced salmon back in 1995; it took the agency til 2015 to rule that AquAdvantage salmon, as the product is known, "is as safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious."

Health Canada approved it for sale six months later. But you still can't buy it here in the U.S. The usual claque of anti-science activists are suing the FDA in an effort to block the company from marketing the fish. And Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, aiming to protect her state's salmon fishers from competition, has inserted a rider in the agriculture spending bill that bans the sale of enhanced salmon until the the FDA publishes its final labeling guidelines. Murkowski claims that Americans must be warned that AquAdvantage salmon are "frankenfish."

As a general regulatory principle, genetically enhanced foods do not have to be labeled unless they are nutritionally different than their conventional versions. Canada sensibly does not require special labels on AquAdvantage salmon.

AquaBounty is currently raising its sterile triploid salmon in an onshore facility in Panama. In June the company announced that it will expand a Prince Edward Island production facility and has acquired a fish farm in Indiana, where it plans to begin raising its enhanced fish for the U.S. market. Aquabounty sold its fish at wholesale for $5.30 per pound in Canada. In comparison, Tradex Foods reports that the current price on fresh atlantic salmon (farmed) in Miami for trimmed fillets is $4.25-$4.30 per pound.

In any case, Alaskan fishers should rest easy. The Aquabounty facility in Indiana would produce about 1,200 tons of Atlantic salmon annually. Americans annually consume about 180,000 tons of Atlantic salmon, of which 170,000 tons are imported. Only 2,000 tons of Atlantic salmon are wild-caught. Most of the 105,000 tons of Pacific salmon is wild and is caught in domestic waters.

Congress has tied the FDA's hands with respect to the AquAdvantage salmon, but the agency could do a great deal of good by withdrawing the scientifically ridiculous draft regulations meant to govern genomically improved livestock, which the Obama administration issued on its way out of the door in January.

Personally, I dislike the flavor of salmon. But I plan to eat an AquAdvantage fillet as soon as I can legally lay hands on one.

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  1. Sorry. I want wild caught fish. Its more expensive but I just don't want frankenfish.

    Its one thing to mutate fish species thru breeding but another to modify their genes. If we are going to have food labeling standards, I want to know that human altered fish does not react differently inside humans.

    Humans think we are so smart and there are no consequences to changing things without knowing what will happen.

    1. This is an excellent parody of someone who has no clue about how anything works.

      1. Clearly you have no idea how anything works, including discussing topics here.

    2. What in the world do you think might happen?

      These are not "frankenfish". They are more "eugenic" fish.

      1. "We offered the world odor!"

        1. - Khan Noonian Salmon

      2. Probably nothing will happen. My point is that things created by humans should be tested to make sure they work.
        In this case, its changing the genes of fish and that food source should be tested to make sure these fish now don't harm humans. For example, maybe changing the genes causes unintended changes so the fish produces an enzyme that makes humans sick.

        Testing for this should be quick and easy.

        The first people who ate wild salmon "tested" it. It's safe to eat and has Omega oils which are supposedly good for heart health.

        I am not advocating the ridiculous overregulation for GMO food, just that assuming its safe is stupid.

        1. I thought the testing was completed during the 20 years it took them to approve it?

          1. I thought GMO was a new tech especial with Salmon, so how did they have 20 years to test it?

            Each genetic change is different with each species.

            1. 1. They don't have to reedit genes as the salmon breed. The Chinook gene that is inserted gets passed on from generation to generation.

              2. We already have had human testing of this salmon up in Canada. I haven't heard of outbreaks of illness traced back to the genetically modified salmon. Or do you want to contend that Canadians aren't truly human?

    3. Much better to have random and uncontrolled mutations. We should probably eliminate vaccines too. If God had wanted us to survive he would have given us better immune systems. And none of those nasty chemicals in the water to contaminate our precious bodily fluids either.

      1. Yes, way to go Extreme Man. You probably should not use all your super powers at once.

        I am just saying new products should be tested for safety and that they work as designed. Genetically altering Salmon is a new product.

        1. Selective breeding is a new product. And unless you're cloning, EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL you eat is a "new" product.

          1. Nature does that, so testing what nature does is also part of natural observation. Selective breeding happens by nature or man's interactions.

            GMO is man-made changes in many cases with hopes of trademarking or copyrighting the tech. Selective Breeding is not enough of a change from nature to allow for humans to control the rights.

            1. Ah, so as long as it's natural it can't hurt you. Explains our declining longevity over the centuries.

    4. The article says the wild fish are cheaper. Maybe that will change later?

    5. How about labeling that says "Genetically modified. Eat at your own risk."

      Nobody, not the producer, the retailer or the government are forcing you to buy it or eat it.

  2. Fish are fungible. This just means more, non-freak salmon for red blooded Americans!

  3. I as a devout Christian do NOT want to eat food that has been looked at, during production or shipping, by non-Christians!

    If I can persuade 51% of the voters to agree with me, we should be able to get mandates about labels about food being looked at by non-Christians, right? Because that is every bit as "scientific" and rational as believing that GMO foods will cause us to mutate, or some such! (With the exception of allergies, like putting peanut genes into these fish, which is not the case).

    I have NO idea what all of the horrible things that are happening to me, in my old age, have been caused by eating foods that have been looked at by non-Christians!!!! I want to KNOW, I want my LABELS!!!!

  4. l: AquAdvantage no different nutritionally than farmed raised salmon. I am not a fish eater, but am told that wild caught taste different/better. You might want to keep in mind that stocks of wild Atlantic salmon are severely depleted.

    1. So the ecofreaks should be clambering on board to eat the frankenfish, to protect the wild stocks, in a rational world, yes.

      Sad to say, the ecofreaks are not at all rational, when compounded with the powers of Governments Almighty. Enviropig (devised in Canada) would similarly help the environment (reduce the amount of phosphorus that pigs require in their diets, reduce waste of phosphorus, reduce hypoxic waters caused by algal blooms caused by over-fertilization; also ends up saving fish and other water wildlife).

      Canadians killed off their flocks of enviro-pigs because of over-regulation, with no end in sight (as of last time I checked in depth). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enviropig for starters...

    2. I am not just talking about nutrition.

      I love eating fish but wild and farm raised taste different. I don't know if its that ocean fish have to swim more or avoid predators or what compared to barely moving in a fish swimming pool.

      If some fish survey group says that Atlantic Salmon numbers are getting low, I would gladly switch to some other fish type so I don't contribute to that species being hunted into extinction.

      If we had free market with food and fishing, price signals would make Atlantic Salmon more and more expensive so most people would eat cheaper fish. We have government controls on what and how much fish you can harvest. Similar bad government controls as farming causing overgrowing of certain foods and dumping of certain foods to control prices.

  5. But I plan to eat an AquAdvantage fillet as soon as I can legally lay hands on one.

    If you really want one just fire up the Dark Net. Some libertarian you are.

    1. Life is too short to eat foods you do not like for politicsl reasons.

      1. Salmon is best raw.

        1. Even bears would bearly agree with you!

          Raw, but at least SMOKED, is best!!!

        2. 100 different ways to eat Salmon and many of them make Salmon very tasty.

      2. What about for religious reasons? All I need is the Pope to bless this as ok to eat on Fridays in lent. Come on Pope, the science is settled.

        1. Religious reasons, is that why the bears seem to like to eat fish sushi, any and every day of the week? Or is that only the Catholic bears, or the Protestant bears?

          Most of all, what I'd REALLY like to know is, do Catholic bears shit in the woods?!?!?

          1. Your God damn right they do!

  6. Ah, yes. The anti-science cabal strikes again, using big government to force its will upon the United States.

  7. The FDA says its ok, so the science is settled. Why do you hate science?

  8. Here's my recipe for home-cured salmon:

    2x glass baking dishes (need to fit inside each other)
    Weight (canned food, bottles of water, etc)
    a fridge

    1 skin on salmon filet from tail (the flat, triangular cut), deboned and descaled
    2 big bunches of dill (with stems)

    3 parts salt (by weight)
    2 parts sugar (by weight)
    caraway seeds, ground white pepper (as much as you want)

    Soak salmon filet in salted water for 10 minutes, then remove and pat dry. Turn filet skin-side up, rub cure mix into skin side. Fill bottom of one glass dish with half of dill (enough to provide a "bed"). Turn fish skin-side down on dill. Rub more cure into flesh-side of fish, applying heavier cure where the fish is thicker. Cover with remaining dill, and cover entire dish with plastic wrap. Use second glass dish and place on top of plastic and fish (should be pressing down on fish). Add weight, place in the fridge.

    After 24 hours, remove from fridge, remove weight plastic, and top layer of dill. Drain off any liquid in the dish. Turn fish over (skin-side up) and replace dill, plastic, dish and weight. Place back into fridge for another 24 hours.

    The next day, remove fish from dill and place on cutting board. Using a sharp, thin blade, carefully cut thin strips on a bias, and serve on bagels or pumpernickel.

    Supposedly you could cold-smoke it at this point, but I like it as is. Rewarding and certainly cheaper than buying packaged, pre-made gravlax.

    1. Nice! I will have to try that.

  9. I do love salmon. Fuck the gov't.

    Personally, I dislike the flavor of salmon.

    I ate that salmon with some teriyaki and a nice chardonnay.

  10. I don't have a problem with the FDA requiring truthful labels. This is not a complicated scheme. They know their fish are genetically modified. Requiring them to truthfully indicate as much is one of the most trivial burdens the FDA imposes on anyone.

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