While consumers are growing more aware of the genetically modified organisms in our vegetable and grain crops, there’s another food frontier looming on the horizon — genetically modified animals for human consumption. But if you’re into the idea of an engineered salmon, well, you’ll be waiting for a while.
Here’s the thing: While there’s no evidence that genetically modified foods have bad health effects, the government is still wishy-washy on regulations that would be necessary to sell fish or other animals on the retail market.
It’s been four years since the Obama administration took on the task of engineered animals, and it’s still undecided, reports the Associated Press.
Proponents of this fast-growing salmon, which would be the first GM animal approved for human consumption, say doing so can create animals that are free of diseases, cleaner in their environment and grow faster.
But critics have been rallying against GM foods in the years since the government first started weighing the salmon issue, leading to Safeway and Kroger pledging not to sell the fish if it’s ever approved.
Those opponents say GM organisms could potentially wreak havoc in the wild if they end up mingling with native species, and no one knows exactly what that could do.
“These are fundamental questions we have to ask of society,” says a rep from Friends of the Earth, an advocacy group that’s asked retailers not to sell the salmon and warned consumers against eating it. “Where is all of this going to end up? Where do we draw the line? Let’s look at the full implications and the full costs.”
The Food and Drug Administration said in 2010 that it seems like the salmon would be safe to eat, and in 2012 that it wouldn’t pose a threat to the environment, probably. But again, if you’re licking your chops, hang on a few: “It is not possible to predict a timeline for when a decision will be made,” an FDA spokeswoman said in regards to the GM fish.
Even if the salmon get approved, it’ll take about two years to get them to a market, one that might not be so welcoming.
Engineered salmon may be a tough sell [Associated Press]