The New York Times Takes a Stand on GMO Salmon

The New York Times Takes a Stand on GMO Salmon

Consumers and experts are wary of GE salmon, and so is the NY Times Editorial Board

On the news of the Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of GMO salmon for human consumption, the New York Times Editorial Board urges Congress to allow states the right to require labeling of genetically engineered foods, including the controversial AquaBounty salmon. The editorial board is made up of 19 journalists with wide-ranging areas of expertise.

The editorial board agrees with opponent’s arguments that safeguards to prevent the GE salmon from interbreeding with wild salmon "may not be 100 percent foolproof". Opponents like Jaydee Hanson, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, argue that research has not been done to analyze the potential for the spread of disease or the ways in which escaped genetically engineered salmon might compete for resources or disturb ecological habitats of other organisms. Opponents also argue that if the bigger fish were to escape, they could outcompete wild salmon for food or mates.

A proponent for the GE fish, Nina Fedoroff, who served as science and technology adviser to the secretary of state, claims, "This is great news for consumers and the environment. Wild salmon populations have long been in deep trouble because of over-fishing, and open-water cage farming of salmon pollutes coastal waters, propagates fish diseases and sacrifices a lot of wild-caught fish to be consumed as salmon feed." Opponents like Chef Barton Seaver argue that GE salmon is not a solution to the anthropogenic problem, and is simply sweeping the problem under the rug. Many believe the real sustainable solution would be to ban unsustainable fishing methods and correct the damage it has done with conservation methods.

Consumers are wary, and their concerns are being heard. According to Friends of the Earth, "more than 60 grocery store chains representing more than 9000 stores across the U.S. have made commitments to not sell the GMO salmon, including Safeway, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Aldi and many others."

The New York Times Editorial Board states in their article:

"In approving genetically engineered salmon as safe to eat and safe for the environment, the Food and Drug Administration rejected petitions from environmental and food safety groups asking that companies selling this salmon be required to label it as genetically engineered. Congress should overturn that decision. Consumers deserve to know what they are eating."
"The House passed a bill on July 23, 2015, that would pre-empt states from requiring such labeling, and industry groups are pressing the Senate to attach similar language as a rider to an omnibus spending bill. The Senate should rebuff that tactic and allow states to adopt mandatory labeling laws if they wish."

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