Food & Farm Policy Issue Update: Frankenfish and Other Scary Eats

Whether we like it or not, genetically engineered plant-based foodstuffs have become pretty commonplace. Local/organic produce is something I've come to terms with, but G.E. meat? That could be another story.

  • The unsettling news item that alerted me to G.E. meat is the creation of the... FRANKENFISH. Okay, there is no such thing as the frankenfish (well, maybe on The Simpsons) but a company called AquaBounty has created a genetically engineered salmon. It's about twice as long as regular salmon (check out the photo) and has three sets of chromosomes, making them sterile. The fish gets a growth gene from the Pacific Chinook salmon and genetic material from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish, that allows it to grow in the summer and winter. Its "manufacturers" say it tastes the same and has no harmful side effects. Still, many groups and organizations are pushing the Food and Drug Association to deny approval.
  • The argument for genetically modified food is that it’s the best way to counter worldwide food shortages and the only viable way to keep up with the Earth’s growing population. But one of the biggest opponents is Ben and Jerry's! On Thursday September 16th, Ben and Jerry’s joined the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, and Friends of the Earth in a rally outside the White House, demanding the Obama administration halt the approval of the salmon, which would be the first genetically engineered food animal.
  • To hear AquaBounty’s side of the story, take a look at this graph from their website and read the comparison between the AquAdvantage Salmon and the “standard” or as I like to call it, the “normal” Salmon. The graph shows all the great things that come out of a bigger fish that grows faster.
  • What scares many people about the frankenfish is that you won’t know if you’re eating it (or the real thing). And then what’s next? How about a genetically modified pig? It’s supposed to be “greener” than the natural variety.

Health is important to us all and what we feed our children and ourselves is something we should all care about. Until next time, keep it fresh and buy local.