With the FDA poised to approve genetically engineered (GE) salmon, California legislators are taking preemptive action to protect consumers from being blindsided when it hits the market.
The FDA has indicated that if the new GE salmon is approved, they do not plan to require labeling. A bill currently making its way through the California state legislature would mandate any GE fish sold in the state to be labeled so consumers can make an informed choices about the food they eat.
A 2008 poll by Consumer Reports found that 95% of people believe food from genetically engineered animals should be labeled. A 2010 Reuters poll corroborated these results, finding 93% of Americans believe these products should be labeled. With genetically engineered animals on the brink of entering our food supply for the first time, clearly consumers want to be able to know what they’re buying.
There are several reasons that labeling GE fish is a good idea. This new breed may have lower nutritional value than wild salmon, and may also increase the potential for allergic reactions. “It is essential to label a genetically engineered animal so that any unexpected effects will be recognized and consumer health protected,” says Michael Hansen, senior scientist with Consumers Union.
Furthermore, genetically engineered fish could pose a serious threat to wild salmon populations. GE salmon, which grow twice as large as wild salmon in half the time, may outcompete the wild fish or introduce new diseases.
Food companies and the biotech industry know that many buyers would avoid GE salmon. Without a label, consumers have no choice.
A critical vote this week will determine weather a bill to require labeling of GE fish lives or dies. Californians: send a message to your Assemblymember now.
For more info:
What’s the Big Deal about Genetically Engineered Salmon? (related post)