'Frankenfish' Salmon Moves Closer to FDA Approval—Would You Eat It?

The federal agency says the fish are safe for people and the environment, but critics remain skeptical.

Genetically modified salmon could soon be making its way to your dinner plate, if the Food and Drug Administration grants final approval to a proposal from a Massachusetts bio tech firm.

The fish, dubbed "Frankenfish" by its critics, is Atlantic salmon that has been modified with a growth hormone from Pacific chinook salmon and a gene from an eel-like fish known as ocean pout. The modifications result in a fish that matures twice as fast as regular Atlantic salmon.

Would you be comfortable eating genetically modified salmon? Tell us in the comments section.

The FDA has already determined the fish, created by AquaBounty Technologies, poses no health or environmental risk, according to various media reports. The proposal is now under a 60-day period of public review—the final hurdle to FDA approval.

The genetically modified fish tastes like regular salmon, meaning consumers probably will not be able to tell the difference—and ABC News reports the FDA is unlikely to require special labeling for the fish.

Meanwhile, Washington is one of several states with pending initiatives on required labeling for GMOs—genetically modified organisms. Initiative 522 would require any food sold in Washington state and made with genetically engineered crops to be labeled.

Lauren Padgett (Editor) January 07, 2013 at 09:14 PM
I couldn't do it. We live too close to a wonderful seafood supply that I couldn't justify spending money on modified salmon!
Jeanne Gustafson January 07, 2013 at 09:35 PM
I'm with you, Lauren. We don't need to even resort to farmed here, as I did occasionally in farther away areas once upon a time. What we do need to do is to continue making improvements to habitat and support the bounty we have! Go FISH (Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery)!
Ian Maddox January 07, 2013 at 09:47 PM
I think it's a brilliant idea, with some caveats. If you're concerned about the effects of the gene itself, consider the fact that the gene could have just as easily come from cows or chickens--an animal you already eat. Individual genes in cooked foods aren't perilous. For people who just want salmon or even just fish and don't need top notch virgin ocean wild caught organic never-frozen salmon, this may just do fine. The fewer people putting demands on our existing ocean stock, the better chance it has to survive. My biggest concern is the possiblity a creature like this has of getting into an established wild environment and dominating over already supressed species. If this is a purely farmed or is soundly proven to not be an environmental aggressor, I say bring it on.
Harborite January 07, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Not a chance. I don't eat farmed fish of any kind. ...at least I hope I don't :o)
Priya Sinha January 07, 2013 at 10:16 PM
No. What kind of chemical reaction have occurred due to the modification. And, what happens to native species, if one of these monsters is released, by accident, into the world? NO TO GMOs!
April Chan January 07, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Hm...not that I'd eat it personally, but playing devil's advocate here...if you won't touch the frankenfish, where did you get your turkey this last Thanksgiving? How about your corn? http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/11/turkeytech/
Jane Brown January 08, 2013 at 12:49 AM
I don't eat farm fish and I certainly would not eat Frankenfish. There hasn't been enough studies done on Frankenfish to determine what is will do to out bodies. How does the Federal Agency know what the genes and hormones of Frankenfish will effect us in 5, 10, 20 years. From the news reports the Frankenfish cannot reproduce.
Jason F. January 08, 2013 at 08:26 AM
Agreed!! All fresh!!! If we don't have enough, too bad! We eat what we have!!!
Jason F. January 08, 2013 at 08:27 AM
There is no way I would ever eat this fish, and they better label the fish or I will be sueing!!! I guess I better stick to fishing for the fish I eat....what is this world coming too? Stop playing in the laboratory......This won't better the world.
Gorden S January 08, 2013 at 01:29 PM
I am learning to eat "off grid" so this will not affect me...All of the food available in the US today is basically Monsanto poison.... Be a sheep or be a predator!
Musique January 08, 2013 at 02:32 PM
This could be why allergies are on the rise and have been for a while. Corn, wheat, and soy are among the most well known allergies.
Musique January 08, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Lets say you have an allergy, then that is mixed with the food you are allergic to, then you sit down for dinner and you go into shock and die because you didn't know it was mixed with what you are allergic to? Far fetched? Nope! On a less severe note, what if you have food sensitivities and that food gives you migraines, seizures, or stomach distress. Eating is already scary for people with allergies and we often do not go out to restaurants because we cannot trust the food supplied. Having UNLABELED food supply is my biggest concern. At a minimum, I want it labeled, for our safety. If it is not labeled, why? Because they KNOW there are a lot of people who'd choose not to eat it even without allergies! Man has a way of messing things up and this I believe is one of them. Don't get me wrong, I love progress, but this is a very dangerous game to be playing and Monsanto knows it. They have a deceptive history and I'd never trust anything their hands were in. What if Frankenfish get into our waterways and messes up the fish in the wild? That has the potential of a big disaster. Farmers are upset with the GOM seeds, what will happen with the food supply when they get to the meat? Will Monsanto then have total control like they do the seeds? I am not volunteering to be a food tester!
Jeanne Gustafson January 08, 2013 at 03:10 PM
I think you bring up a good point, April. I think one of the main issues a lot of people have, and a major reason for the push for labeling, is that for the most part we can't tell which foods are modified.
Musique January 08, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Wow, April, based on this article, did we ever stop to consider that maybe with these huge turkeys, pigs, etc., that this could be a contributing factor to the obesity rate, especially in children? Huge farm animals that can't stop eating = huge children that cant' stop eating? Just an observation. Science is great, but it is being abused. We don't need all these huge animals to feed the world, we need more vegetables (Non GMO) that pollute far less and do not contribute to the worlds gluttony. It blows my mind that so few people see the long term consequences.
Musique January 08, 2013 at 03:15 PM
I am sure Monsanto has that lawsuit covered too. They are a very deceptive company.
John Snow January 08, 2013 at 04:40 PM
I just read the article, and to be specific, modern turkeys (as described in the article) are not the result of adding genes from other species to the turkeys. They are the result of regular old breeding, albeit enhanced by technology, just as many dog breeds are. However, you are bang on about the corn. Genetically-modified corn is in just about every corn-bearing food you can buy. The genes have traveled, wanted or no, from where they are deliberately grown to other fields where they aren't. We are all part of a grand experiment.
John Snow January 08, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Nothing wrong with farmed fish per se. It's just that some kinds of farming are harmful, while others are not. Farmed salmon is in the former category as done in Puget Sound.
April Chan January 08, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Hi John - thanks for pointing out that distinction. I suppose each individual has their own level of tolerance for the extent to which their food is genetically modified. There does seem to be something clearly more sinister about inserting genes that don't naturally occur into an organism for the purpose of mass consumption...though it's done all the time in a laboratory for research purposes. It would indeed be scary if such a thing were released into the wild. I enjoyed the Hunger Games universe but only as science fiction!
Margaret Santjer January 08, 2013 at 07:32 PM
It will be interesting to see how Initiative 522 plays out here. In California, where GMO labeling failed in the November election, opponents spent $45.6 million to defeat it, compared with about $8.7 million in support, according to this piece on ballotpedia. Monsanto was the top donor against. http://web1.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_37,_Mandatory_Labeling_of_Genetically_Engineered_Food_%282012%29
Cindy Ruwe January 08, 2013 at 07:45 PM
If God wanted us to eat "frankenfish" He would have created it! I would not knowingly eat ANY genetically engineered foods no matter how safe the FDA says it is! Lets quit playing God before we mess our world up so bad there is no return!!!
dexterjibs January 08, 2013 at 08:40 PM
I think I will pass on this-unless I am really hungry. Or, maybe if I have the munchies (afterall, God's herb is now legal to smoke). I guess I would have to be higher than a kite to eat a fish called Frankenfish.
Edward A. January 08, 2013 at 10:54 PM
"And, what happens to native species, if one of these monsters is released, by accident, into the world?" They are sterile, and they are reared in inland farms (not coastal farms, unlike farmed salmon). "...this is a very dangerous game to be playing and Monsanto knows it." "I am sure Monsanto has that lawsuit covered too. They are a very deceptive company." Monsanto has absolutely nothing to do with this fish. All of you GMO fearmongers should be more concerned with the effects of salmon hatcheries on the salmon gene pool: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fish-hatchery-silverhead-salmon-genetics Also, the effects of dams, fertilizer, pesticides and industrial pollutants on the health of the salmon and the health of the people eating them. Sorry, but GMO really brings out paranoia in people.
Jennifer West January 10, 2013 at 05:02 PM
no and I do not eat farmed fish (socalled Atlantic Salmon) I have been up in Canada near where they farm them, on a boat. the farmed ones escaped and acted goofy in the water, splashing and jumping like they were crazed. They would be a nice non-appetizing gray color if they didn't put food coloring in their feed. They get into the natural water environment and mix with wild salmon, and deplete the genes of the wild salmon. Terrible idea, we have too much of this gene manipulation of our food. Even our wheat has been so manipulatee, it now makes us fat and has lost much of its nutritive value. We need to go back to natural food.
JT Fangio January 10, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Everythine Musique says is right on the money. Obesity and food allergies are increasing at alarming rates. Genetic engineering just sounds so evil. Gordon S offers valid reasons for going off the food grid. In the last year, I have drastically cut back on corn and wheat products. Come this Spring I will be growing my own vegies and buying fresh caught fish, as well as locally raised poultry.
Edward A. January 10, 2013 at 05:48 PM
What do you mean by "natural food?" You are completely correct that the wheat we eat isn't natural. It has been selectively bred for 10,000 years, and probably doesn't resemble its ancestor much at all. If we had to rely on what is truly natural (ancient grains, fruits, nuts, wild animals), the planet could support a few hundred million people. Only affluent westerners who shop at Whole Paycheck (err, Whole Foods), and, perhaps, some New Guinea tribesman, can afford such luxury. :)


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